Resources for Creatives

"Magical" Watercolor Kids Project

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I'm excited to share this wax resist project that you can create with your kids. The end result has a unique, "magical" texture created from the salt drying on the paper. I have listed out all the supplies that I used and linked them to Amazon. You can find a lot of the materials at a local arts and crafts store, Walmart, or other online stores as well.

  • Watercolor Paper

I recommend Canson cold press 140 lb. paper. You will have to cut it down slightly to fit in a printer.

  • Watercolor Pan Paints

I use Grumbacher Opaque Watercolor Set for my kids. They are a little better quality than the standard kid watercolors. If you want some that are slightly cheaper, Artist's Loft makes some that would work fine for children

  • Round Brushes

I use Princeton Round Brushes when I teach a workshop or paint with the kids. Size 5 or 6 are good sizes for this project.

  • White Crayon or White Oil Pastel

Crayola or whatever kind you have at home should work fine. Be sure it is somewhat sharp so you can color in the words on the paper.

  • "Make Your Own Magic" PDF

Download HERE

  • Salt

I found that coarse sea salt works best but you can try with a fine table salt, as well.

  • Spray Bottle

A regular plastic spray bottle or an old cleaner bottle would work!

  • Cup or Glass for Water

My children are pretty good about using a glass manson jar. I prefer it to a plastic cup because it can tip over easier and spill. I have also  linked  No Spill Cups if you feel more comfortable with that.

  • Paper Towels

You will need a lot of paper towels! If you prefer not to create a lot of waste, hand towels and even a larger bath towel can be useful. Make sure they aren't your nice ones!

  • Painters Tape

This is an important item because it will help keep your child's art in place! The painters tape will also help keep the painting from buckling too much as they add water. 

  • Sharpie

I used a sharpie to outline the letters once the painting was completely dry. You can use any dark marker you have.

  • Optional Liquid Watercolor:

We experimented with droppers and liquid watercolor. I didn't have any on hand so I took a bit of cheaper tube watercolor and poured it in an old dropper bottle, added water, and shook it up. 


1. Print Worksheet

You can download the PDF of the words, "Make Your Own Magic" HERE. I was inspired by simple shapes when creating this font. I wanted it to be "readable" but more interesting than just regular letters. Once you download the pdf, you can print it off on a sheet of your watercolor paper. If your paper won't fit in your printer or if you can't find a way to cut it down, you can always print it on regular paper. Then, lay your watercolor paper on top and hold it up to a window. You should be able to lightly trace it with a pencil.

If you don't like the quote or the words, feel free to write or draw a simple image! You don't have to use my quote if you have an idea of something else.

2. Color in letters


The white crayon (or oil pastel) creates the wax resist for this project. When you add water and watercolor to the paper, it won't be able to "stick" to the areas where there is wax. This will keep those areas paint free and when the painting is complete, you should be able to still read the words. You don't have to use white, any light color should work. This step will need to be done by an adult or an older child. It is the one part of the project that you really take "ownership" of. You will need to take your white crayon and fill in all the words on the watercolor paper. Be sure you are pushing down hard and filling in all of the letters. It will be a little tricky to see where you went so I recommend outlining the letter first and then filling it in. You can also hold it up to the light to see where you colored. My sister and I timed it and it takes a little under 10 minutes, so prepare for that! 

Again, if you don't want to use this quote, feel free to create your own words or image. Just make sure that it is thick enough to color in with the white crayon.

3. Prepare workspace


I taped all sides of the paper down to my table with painter's tape. My table is fairly dirty so I didn't bother laying down a cloth, but you totally can! I only gave each person one paintbrush to keep it simple. They each got a watercolor pan set, paper towel, and cup of water. In the center of the table I put a spray bottle, dropper with liquid watercolors, and salt. These material's can be added to the table later if you think it would distract your child in the beginning.

I love turning on music! It helps create a "fun" environment for everyone.


4. Spray paints and paper


This step helps make the surface of the paper and the watercolors ready for the children to begin painting. The pan watercolors will be dry and hard. I like to spray the paints to "wake them up" and activate the pigment. I lightly mist the paper because this will help the paint spread and blend.  If you don't have a spray bottle, you can just dip the brush in water and add it to each color. You can also do this with the paper. Dip a brush in water and brush it over the surface of the watercolor paper. Older children can do the spraying themselves! I let Nora spray her paper and she loved it!

5. Paint!

If you haven't read my post "5 Tips To Make Painting With Children More Enjoyable", it can be helpful for guiding your children as they paint! I guided the girls in dropping color on the paper. I showed how it blended in the water. They enjoyed using the spray bottle a few times and watched the paint spread. If an area got too wet, I took the edge of a paper towel and dipped it in the puddle forming on the paper. It helped soak up a lot of the extra water. The last part I guided them in was making sure there was enough colors around the letters. 

Other than that, I let them explore and enjoy the messy, creative time!

6. Add salt


This is a really fun step! The paint still needs to be wet on the paper but not pooling. Wait a few minutes and then let the children sprinkle some coarse sea salt on the paper. I tell them it's like putting sprinkles on a cupcake.






7. Let it dry and Clean up!

This is pretty self explanatory. It will take a little bit of time for paint to fully dry. Leave the salt on the paper until it is fully dry. Then, you can carefully peel the tape and dust the salt off. Clean up the mess. You can have older kids help with this.

8. Outline Letters

This step is important to help the letters really stand out. Once everything was completely dry, I carefully outlined each letter. If you have older children, they can do this step.







9. Frame and enjoy!

These two were so proud of their artwork! After it was dry, they "ooed" and "ahhed" at the bursts the salt made.  I had Nora sign hers and we put it in a frame right away. We picked a spot in her room and hung it up. She felt so special seeing it on the wall. 


I hope you enjoy this project! Post a picture of your child's finished painting and tag me in it! (@ampersandmother)

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