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"Dreamtime: Full Moon Over Canyonlands” An original watercolor by artist and writer Molly J. Anderson-Childers.
Poetry & Art in Creative Motion : Wonderful World of Watercolor

Painting with Water and Color

Wet & Wild: The Wonderful World of Watercolor

By Molly Anderson-Childers

"Remember, in art, there are no mistakes… only practice."

Hey, kids! Ready to paint? Let’s get started! Here’s a list of ingredients for a fabulous painting…

Pink Paint StrokeIngredients for a Fabulous Painting:

  • Watercolor Paint Set
  • Several good watercolor brushes in varying sizes, from large to tiny
  • Thick paper (cold-press watercolor paper is best)
  • Paint shirt or smock to cover your clothes
  • Palette to mix colors (a plate or a piece of thick cardboard or wood will work in a pinch)
  • Newspaper, to cover and protect your work area (this helps you avoid messes and parental freak-outs!)
  • A cup full of water
  • Wild Ideas
  • Exciting extras like a box of crayons, stickers, salt, and glitter
  • Paper towels or rags to blot the water from your brush and clean up any spills

How to Paint Fabulously:

Put on your paint shirt and cover the table with newspaper. Gather your supplies and set up a nice place to work. Get a brush wet, and start making some new colors on your palette. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy cool combinations of green and blue hues. Mix them with purples, violets, and greys. To heat things up a little, mix warm colors like cinnamon spice, scarlet, and autumn gold using red, orange and yellow. Black, brown, and purple can all be used to make a color darker. To lighten a color, add white or water it down a little, squeezing a few drops from a clean brush.

Now, using each brush in turn, experiment with line and color. Doodle, play, mess around. Have fun with it — be silly and go wild. You can try splatter-painting, too: just flick a brush loaded with paint over the page, and see what happens! This technique is a lot of fun, and is full of unexpected surprises.

Blue Paint StrokeCrayons and watercolor paints can be used together to create really cool projects. If you draw or write something with a crayon and paint over it, the waxy crayon resists the wet paint. Your design will shine through like a secret message! Try it! Light-colored crayons work best. Fluorescent and metallic crayons are a lot of fun to experiment with, too. If the design isn’t showing up, try making thicker, heavier lines with the crayon before painting or using darker paint.

When you’re ready, make a rough sketch of the painting you’d like to create. Use crayons to add cool designs and details, or to sketch a frame around your page. If you lack ideas, and just can’t decide what to paint, look around the house and the back yard until you find something interesting. Look at it from all different angles and pick one you like, then start sketching!

Once you have a rough sketch, fill in the background with different colors and shapes. Again, try for a quick, basic sketch — nothing complicated. Using a large, soft brush, fill in all the shapes using the colors you mixed on your palette, or mix some new ones as you go! It is usually best to paint with the lighter colors first, and then finish with darker shades. Spread the color evenly, using more water if you need it. Then, with a smaller, almost-dry brush, add the details and finishing touches. Before it dries, sprinkle salt or glitter on the page for a fun, sparkly effect. Paint your signature at the bottom, and the masterpiece is complete.

Red Paint StrokeWhat? It doesn’t look like a masterpiece to you??? If you’re disappointed, or it doesn’t look the way you wanted it to, do not despair. Don’t feel bad, and don’t give up. It happens to me all the time. It happens to every artist! It takes practice to create any kind of art. For every piece I share with the readers at the Creativity Portal there are at least ten other projects that didn’t turn out the way I wanted! Remember, in art, there are no mistakes… only practice. Mistakes mean you did something wrong. Practice means you’re doing something right! There is no “wrong way” to paint, write, sculpt or dance… practicing, making messes, experimenting and trying to improve is the only way to get better results the next time you pick up a paintbrush.

I think it is a lot of fun to paint, and I hope you think so too! Please paint as often as you can. I encourage you to go wild, let the creative juices spill out and flow all over the page, to make messes (and clean them up later so your mom doesn’t flip out!), and to learn to love your own work! •

© 2006 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.

Please respect the creator's copyright by not duplicating this material on your Web site, blog, or print publication without the author's permission.

About the Author | More by Molly Anderson-Childers
Molly J. Anderson-Childers is a wildly creative soul living in Durango, CO. She is a writer, artist, and creative arts instructor. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Fort Lewis College with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and successfully completed their Elementary Teacher Education Program. Her work has appeared in various publications, including The Durango Telegraph, Southwest Colorado Arts Perspective, Images, Voice Be Heard, The Four Corners Business Journal and On the Wings of Poetry. To contact Ms. Childers, please email her at: stealingplums[at] or send a snail mail to P.O. Box 4281, Durango, CO 81302-4281.