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What To Do With Watercolor (Toddler Edition)

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Watercolor has been one of Alden's favorite mediums lately, and it's no wonder why. Watching the colors blend together on the page is exciting and being able to choose his own colors and brushes is pretty fun too.

One of my favorite parts of our watercolor explorations is the finished product - it's kind of hard to make an "ugly" watercolor and his little paintings have made the perfect cards, envelopes, bookmarks, and wall art.

This post is full of tips for using watercolor with your kiddos and packed with my favorite products to make painting fun and easy!

Top tips & favorite things for creating with watercolors:

1. Show your kiddo how to "wake up" their watercolor paints.

One thing that is different about watercolor from acrylic/liquid paint is that the paints need to be activated with water before you can use them.

I call this "waking up" the paints.

Simply add a little bit of water to each color using a wet brush to get the paint ready to use. Show your young artist how to do this for themselves too and they will get the hang of it in no time.

Watercolor paints are available in many different levels of quality from kid-friendly washable sets to student grade and professional quality paints. My favorite set is made by Kuretake and although it's not made for kids it offers exceptional quality at an affordable price - these paints will last a long time!

Watercolor Paint Sets

Kuretake Zig Gansai 12-Color Painting Set

Crayola Washable Watercolors (Set of 2)

2. Use real watercolor paper!

This is something you don't want to skip- watercolor paper makes a WORLD of difference when it comes to painting with your kiddos. Using watercolors on plain/printer paper doesn't have the same effect or success so if you're looking to explore this style of painting - be sure to grab some of this specialty paper.

You can buy watercolor paper as loose sheets, bound as a pad of paper, or even as pre-cut and folded watercolor cards (a super fun way to share your miniature masterpieces)!

Watercolor Paper

100 Sheets Loose Watercolor Paper

10 Pack Blank Watercolor Cards & Envelopes

15 Blank Watercolor Postcards

3. Have multiple brushes on hand & swap out their water cup

Once your kiddo gets the hang of wetting their brush and trying new colors you'll notice that your paint palette starts to get a little murky and all of the colors sort of blend into one big bleh.

Keep lots of brushes on hand to give your young one a fresh brush to work with while you rinse their dirty brush. You can also swap out their murky water to keep their colors fresh too. If the paints colors get too mixed up, allow them to dry and use a wet paper towel to wipe away the top discolored layer of paint.

Watercolor Paint Brushes

Crayola Brushes

3. Try a few fun watercolor techniques to switch it up.

Paint With Toys

Let your little one drive their toy trucks or cars through wet paint. The tire tracks will make lines across the page. After they are done, let them give their toys a "car wash" for even more fun.

Sprinkle Salt

Sprinkling plain table salt on wet watercolor paint creates a cool effect - the salt crystals pull in the surrounding moisture. Once you've sprinkled salt on your painting, set it aside to dry.

Mask with Tape or Stickers

Masking off areas of your painting with tape will protect the paper from paint. When you have finished painting and allowed the paint to dry, you can remove the paint to reveal fun designs. Stickers and vinyl decals (as long as they aren't too sticky) can work well for this too!

Avoiding Mess

Want to avoid the "mess" entirely (there's really no such thing as avoiding mess when it comes to toddlers) but these paint brush pens are a fun way explore the concepts of watercolor without so much cleanup and color mixing.

40 Washable Paint Brush Pens

Or try creating within one of these handy art trays to contain the extra messy nature of watercolor paints. Working on trays (even a shallow cookie sheet) is also a good idea if you are incorporating salt into your artwork!

Plastic Art Activity Trays

After your mini masterpieces are finished be sure to lay them out to dry! Watercolor paper has a tendency to curl at the edges (especially if it has seen a lot of water) so after the initial drying phase I will sometimes stack up Alden's paintings and put them under a pile of heavy books to keep them flat and as always, have fun!

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I'm a thrifty, crafty momma who loves to find ways to bring more creativity into our home. You'll find ideas and inspiration for art projects, crafts, and other family fun here on my blog.

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