Unnatural Indoor Lighting:
Pamela's Nature Notebook Entry:
What the Dobbins Taught Me:
Nature notebooks are a great way to work on dynamic intelligence because they are rich in opportunities for dialog and inter-subjectivity (the fancy word for one person relating to another). Not only that, nature study is good for the brain and, if you don't believe me, listen to what Dr. Carroll Smith has to say on the topic (one of my favorite talks at the 2007 Charlotte Mason Conference). I am grateful to people like Jeannette Tulis and Deborah and Holly Anne Dobbins who have guided me in learning more about how to paint with watercolors (check out their article on nature study).
I am going to share with you clips that show you step by step how I guided Pamela in painting her butterfly. We spent fifteen minutes on one day and fifteen minutes on another day doing this watercolor. I wanted to spotlight a couple of points:
- Cardstock paper works well: you can cut one sheet into four mini-paintings. That is the perfect size for beginners. The picture I painted of the lantana leaf was on a sheet of cardstock of that size!
- Most people recommend Prang watercolors. I think they are great!
- You need more variety of brushes: thick ones are for mixing colors and wide expanses, the thin ones are for details and outlining.
- Never use the green in the tray. Nature has a wide variety of green. If you use the prefabricated one in your tray, your paintings will get boring before long.
- Have a paper towel available to blot mistakes and dry your brush. Too much water will cause your paper to wrinkle.
- Outline in yellow before you start painting. If you mess up, it will be less obvious!
- Think of ways to scaffold your child: I help Pamela with mixing. She has a tendency to use the colors in the tray and not make her own.
- Here is a cheat for white. There is no way I can scaffold the idea of leaving white space, so I bought a set of thick watercolor paints that includes a tube of white!
- Talk about what you see before doing anything! Spend a couple of minutes observing and sharing perspectives.
- If you have never done this before, try making your own watercolor attempts first. It is hard to guide someone in something you have never done. It can be fun!
- Do not paint while your child is painting. It is hard to be a guide when you are trying to be the next Van Gogh!
Outlining in Yellow
Painting the Black Base
Painting Orange Spots
Adding Brown to the Base
Adding White Spots
Adding Blue Spots
One tip I got from the 2007 Charlotte Mason is to take advantage of technology. If that butterfly is flitting around too fast to draw, take a picture, transfer it to your computer, and zoom in for a closer look! Here are two memories Pamela and I made from pictures taken on a visit to Cypress Gardens.
Pamela's Cypress Gardens Entry
My Cypress Gardens Entry