Playing With Art Materials: 9+ Fun Watercolor Techniques

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Watercolor is the perfect paint medium for kids- It’s probably the least messy and involved of all the paints, and it’s incredibly versatile. Plus it dries quickly for instant displaying gratification.

Here are 8 ways to play around with watercolor techniques when you just want to break out the paints and paper, but don’t really want to embark on a whole project. Playing with art materials is an awesome way to get kids comfortable with being creative without the pressure of a spectacular finished product.

watercolor techniques


  • Watercolor paints
  • watercolor paper or heavy board like illustration board or mat board
  • Watercolor brushes
  • Painting pan- we use a butcher pan or jelly roll pan to contain the mess.
  • Jar of water. Must be a mason jar. Just kidding.
  • Salt
  • Alcohol and a dropper
  • Tape- masking or blue painters tape
  • Rubber cement
  • Crayons
  • Paper towels


1. Watercolor Wax Resist This is a classic technique, and one that yields great results, because it is magic. Try the traditional white crayon with darker watercolor over it, or bright crayon colors with lighter colored watercolors on top. Either way gives very cool results.

watercolor techniques for kids


2. Sprinkle salt into watercolor paint. Make sure the paint is very wet, and there’s lots of it pooling on the paper to get the best effect with this technique. I’ve seen some people say they get better results with larger salt crystals, but I haven’t seen much of a difference between big and small crystals. Brush the salt off after it’s dry.

watercolor paint techniques3


We dripped some wet green paint into the whole mess after sprinkling the salt on:

watercolor techniques


3. Drip alcohol by the eyedropper onto watercolor. This was actually the back side. We painted ont the front of the paper and dripped alcohol on it. That looked cool, but when we flipped it over and painted on the back side, it looked even better!

watercolor with alcohol


This was sort of a mess of too-watery watercolor and lots of alcohol dripped in, still kind of interesting:



4. Use wadded-up paper towel to blot areas of wet watercolor away. You’ll most likely have these out anyway, so put them to good use! Check out the cool texture you get.

watercolor blotting
5. Tape resist. Use scotch tape or masking on the surface before painting, and remove the tape when the paint is just about dry. Be careful not to rip the paper when removing the tape.

watercolor tape resist



6. Rubber Cement resist – In a well-ventilated area, brush on some rubber cement or drizzle it, wait for it to dry and watercolor over it.

7. Paint a big old wet puddle of a light color, say, yellow. With a clean brush, pick up a less wet blob of a darker color, say, blue, and drop it into the lighter puddle. Watch the fun! At this point, if you want to try the wadded-up paper towel trick, that looks cool, too.



Experiment with the wetness of the paint. This is blue paint is dabbed onto not-so-wet red paint:



But it was wet enough to texture-blot with some paper towel:

watercolor techniques


8. Draw into the watercolor – Use pencil to draw into the wettish watercolor, or once it’s mostly dry, draw over it with ink. The ink will spread a little, but not as much as when you drip into the wet paint.


9. Drop ink into wet watercolor. I love this technique because the colors are nice and dramatic with the black dropped in. Remember the ink and watercolor project we did previously?

watercolor ink


A note about materials: for the techniques above, we simply used pan watercolors. I would steer away from the super-cheap pan paints, bit you dont have to go for the professional paints, either. There are some middle ground watercolor paints that are very good quality. We love these, they last FOREVER, and are so much more vibrant than cheapo watercolors:

These are some of the other art materials we use on a near-daily basis:



If you like these, please follow my Art Materials and Techniques Pinterest board.

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  1. 03/05/2013 / 11:03 pm

    Can you suggest a place to get watercolors?

    Thanks for this! Maybe the kids and I will explore (when it gets warm and they can go outside). Haha!

  2. 03/06/2013 / 4:28 am

    We’ve never had much luck with watercolors, because I don’t know what I’m doing. 🙂 This will be a big help!

    • 03/06/2013 / 10:23 am

      Yes, this takes all the pressure out of watercolor, because you go into it with the idea of just playing around and seeing what happens!

  3. 03/06/2013 / 2:30 pm

    So many cool techniques – and several of these I had never heard of before! Thanks for this post!

  4. 03/06/2013 / 11:02 pm

    We love experimenting with paint. Thanks for giving us new things to try!

  5. 03/07/2013 / 9:42 am

    Perfect timing! My oldest is taking a watercolor class and loving it!! She is learning a few of these techniques but it’s nice to have them all in one place. Watercolor is so fun!

  6. 03/07/2013 / 4:17 pm

    This looks fun and your examples are beautiful – definitely makes me want to experiment!
    They would look cool blown up like abstract art.

  7. 03/12/2013 / 10:22 pm

    Love this post. Watercolors are my favorite!

  8. 03/17/2013 / 11:15 am

    this is so helpful. i have two little ones who will love all these techniques. they look so pretty to! thanks for sharing.

  9. 05/07/2013 / 9:21 pm

    this is so helpful. Now I can have something to share with my son when he wants to do something arty.

  10. 06/05/2013 / 8:39 am

    Thank you! We will try this one of these days. Rainy season is almost here in the Philippines and I need more fun indoor activities.

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