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DIY Watercolor Bird Silhouette Art for Kids

I’m teaching a great group of homeschoolers simple watercolor techniques, and today I thought I’d post our next project as a tutorial that you can use for your kids.

Silhouette art is popular right now, and is super easy to create.

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Supply list: 

  • Watercolor paper, 140 lb.
  • Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketchers Pocket Box Set (This set fits in a child’s pocket and is perfect for nature study outings!)
  • Watercolor brushes– a flat wide 1″ brush and a medium fine tipped brush. (buy brushes that are specifically for watercolor and come to a point in the package. If they are blunt topped with NO point, your kids won’t be able to get detail.)
  • water
  • paper towels
  • 8″X10″ bird silhouette of your choice. Check google for bird pictures.

First:

Transfer your bird picture of choice to your watercolor paper.

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If you have graphite paper, you can use that, but for my art kids, we simply rub pencil over the entire backside of our image print out, then trace it. Know what I mean? You are scribbling with pencil all over the back of the bird picture you chose. Then place it on your watercolor paper and trace firmly, transferring the image.  That’s the DIY New England way. :)

Second:

Use your flat paint brush to paint your picture with WATER only.

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Third:

Mix cobalt blue or whatever “sky-ish” blue color you have and a little water and dot in the sky while your paper is still wet. This allows the paint to “spread” and makes the clouds look realistic. Allow to dry completely before continuing. If you are impatient like I am, use a hair dryer to speed up your process.

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Fourth:

Using a smaller brush, mix ultramarine blue or your darkest blue with sepia brown or your darkest brown. Don’t over mix. Allow the colors to separate. Your mixture should not be super watery. You want a dark mixture. Watercolor dries at half strength, so use color that is darker than you think it should be. Fill in your outline and allow to dry. You’re done.

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This can be used for any silhouette, obviously.

You can use the same technique to make this picture with 3-5 year olds, except after you transfer the image on your watercolor paper, you COLOR the silhouette outline with a white crayon. This is called a wax resist. Then, once your silhouette is colored in white, you watercolor the background. Easy peasy art project for your kiddos.

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Watercolor is a wee bit intimidating if you’re not used to the medium but here are a few things to remember about watercolor:

  1. You need to DRY your work between steps or you’ll end up with a hazy soup.
  2. As much as possible, mix only two colors at a time. Anything more gets muddy.
  3. Use the best quality materials you can afford. Investing in a small artist quality palatte, like the Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketchers Pocket Box Set is better than using Crayola Watercolor from Walmart. Your kids will get a much better result.

ENJOY!

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