MIXED MEDIA PAINTING
Level: Junior, Middle School, High School
Grades: 3 and up | Age: 8yrs and up | Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
[Andrea is one of the creators of KinderArt.com]
A mixed media still life "happy accident" art lesson is a great introduction to pen and ink, watercolor and pastels. Its practically fool-proof with results that are inevitably fun and impressive for you and your students.
What You Need:
What You Do:
- watercolor paint
- watercolor brushes
- watercolor paper (if you don't have watercolor paper, any heavy drawing
paper will do as long as it has "bite" and won't soak through as you work
- drawing ink (waterproof ink is best but it can be messy if spilled so be
careful.) I have done this lesson with kids as young as 9 and 10 with no
problem -- the key is spill proof containers and the knowledge that once
ink gets in clothing ... it doesn't come out.
- pickle picks (long wooden toothpicks) or shishkibob sticks.
- water containers
- Chalk pastel or even blackboard chalk will do -- the brighter the colors
- still life subject matter (the weirder the better) I've found that masks,
dried flowers, funky fabric and pottery all work very well.
- Set out your still life (if you have a large class, set out a number of
different "still life centers" around the room). I always like using masks but you can use any items you might have available (fruit, vegetables, vases, plants, etc.)
- Have your students draw what they see on a large sheet of paper (about
12" x 15" ) Before they groan and say "I can't do that" remind them that
they should only draw a basic outline of what they see. They will be adding
water to their paper and the lines they draw are simply guidelines ... they
will disappear when the water media is added to the paper.
- Encourage students to fill the entire sheet of paper with their subject
matter. Even if it means "moving" some objects so the paper fills up.
- Once there is a basic outline on the paper, have your students wet the
paper with clean water -- using a clean paint brush. The key is to not soak
the paper totally and completely, just enough so that ink or watercolor
will flow easily across the page.
- Next, while the paper is damp, have your students dip their shishkibob
stick into the ink.
- They should then follow the lines that they have drawn with the ink on
- The first thing that will happen is that the ink will "blob" up on the
paper --DON'T PANIC -- you WANT this to happen! The idea is that you really
can't control what happens next.
- When all of the pencil outlines have been traced with the ink on the
stick, let the ink dry for a few minutes.
- OK, now, have your students color in with the watercolor paint. Remember,
the whole idea of using watercolor is that you use WATER. None of this big
globs of heavy paint. You want the paint to remain translucent.
- I usually encourage my students to use colors not normally associated
with that they are drawing. If a mask is brown -- make it red. If a plant
is green -- make it blue. Of course, color choice is completely up to the
- When the painting is complete, hand out the chalk pastel for your
students to highlight certain areas of the painting. Don't go too crazy
here, just a shot of bright color here and there is all you need.
- Voila -- a happy accident -- go with the flow -- mixed media still life
work of art.
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