Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Adventures in Watercolor

Watercolor is such a great "go to" medium to expand from the basic markers and crayons for younger grades a few weeks into a new school year, once basic Art room rules and procedures are established. Not too messy for end of class clean up procedures still in the works, but still provides the satisfaction and magical element of painting that most children seem to love.

Magical and practical elements aside, I have two major issues with watercolors; muted color effect and short lasting color palettes.  I have yet to find a brand of watercolor paints that provides a vibrant enough color to make the medium worth the while.  These two frustrations, paired with a warm and cool color lesson that I've been dying to try, set me out on a google search to find vibrant watercolors.

I was shocked to find the top of my vibrant watercolor google search to be "homemade watercolor recipes."  I compared a few recipes and was off to the local Dollar store for supplies and ingredients.

The supplies:

ice cube trays (or other individual containers such as mini muffin tins)
food color (gel variety was voted as providing most vibrant color)
baking soda
corn starch
light corn syrup
white distilled vinegar

The proportions:

1/2 C baking soda
1/4 C white distilled vinegar
1/4 C corn starch
1/2 t light corn syrup

  • mix the above four ingredients together, pour into divided containers, add several drops of food color to your desired color intensity, mix well and set aside to dry.  Allow 2-3 days for the watercolors to be completely solid in form and ready for use.
  • The above recipe will yield one ice cube tray of primary and secondary colors.  I was able to get 5 palettes made with the food color packets before running out.
The Outcome:

The most vibrant, color intense watercolors I have ever seen!  So happy with the outcome, I'm making a second batch this weekend so each tabletop has two full color palettes to share from.  Can't wait to test them out with 1st and 2nd grade Color Exploration Unit this month!

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