Saturday, September 17, 2011

Watercolor Clouds

A couple of people have remarked on the watercolor clouds. They are so easy to do, I thought I'd share it here. We are painting clouds right now to get in the habit of looking at the sky to study what kind of clouds they are. Every day Pamela writes the name of the cloud (stratus, cumulus, cirrus, and nimbus). We are also doing a couple of experiments on vapor and evaporation before we dig into books later in the year.
Step One - I cut a 9 x 12 sheet of watercolor paper in half. I use 90 lb. paper because we like to save the more expensive 140 lb. paper for special projects. To make the lovely border, tape a piece of the cut paper to a board with masking tape or painters tape.
Step Two - Collect supplies: big brushes, paper towels, and two bowls with washes (basically dirty water made by dipping you brush into a color and cleaning it off with water). We have a kit of 24 watercolor tubes: black and cerulean blue are good for this project. Then, go outside and look at the sky to see what kind of clouds you have and what colors you need. Today is a gray overcast (stratus clouds).
Step Three - Make a wet wash. Dip the brush the dirty water (we chose black because of the stratus clouds) and get it "juicy" as Pamela's art teacher likes to say. Then cover the entire paper, making it nice and wet. You may see some puddles on your paper. It's okay. You can take care of that in the next step.

Step Five - Scrunch up the paper towel and quickly and lightly press on the puddle to sop up the puddle only. In watercolor, your paper towel is your best friend: it can lift color when you make a mistake or think the color is overpowering. (Colors never over power Pamela). A paper towel leaves an interesting texture and makes lovely clouds (try color lifting from a blue wash and you will see some lovely cumulus clouds). We have not made cirrus clouds yet (the feathery ones). I will post on that once we make them.
Step Six - Dip your brush into black (or blue) mixed with a little water. Dip the brush once into the wash (only once). Then dollop the color quickly onto the wet wash. It should still be wet to get the right effect. Keep in mind you have no control over what the colors do. Wet-on-wet is quite unpredictable and bleeds into all sorts of unpredictable shapes. If you have dark storm clouds, you will want more wet-on-wet. If you have stratus clouds like we do, you will want less. You can see in the picture how quickly Pamela moves her hand.

Step Seven - If you have too much wet or too much color or want to make some clouds, scrunch up a paper towel and dab those spots. You can see how quickly Pamela moves her hands. Once it dries completely, remove the tape and write on the border.


Steph said...

Bookmarking this post. Thank you!

walking said...

I look forward to our cloud painting every day. Now, if only God would grant us more nimbus and cirrus clouds, we would be happy campers!