Watercolor Resist Painting

Inevitably, the afternoon lull arrives. It usually comes around the time my son would nap when he was younger. But since "big boys" clearly can't take naps (even if they're rubbing their eyes and getting grumpy), it's a good time to do something peaceful together. I also like to have a few tricks up my sleeves to keep things interesting.

This time, I've prepared a watercolor surprise for H. The night before, I drew sea creatures directly onto contact paper, cut them out, and stuck them each onto a piece of thick watercolor paper.

  1. Ages: 3 - 8

  2. 30 minutes - 1 hour

  3. A little messy


Materials you'll need

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    As the lull approaches, I'm ready to head it off with our sea creature resist art project. My son sits down and studies the faint outline of a seahorse on paper. Immediately curious, he's forgotten all about the TV he was asking to watch only moments ago.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    We slip on his art shirt, and he quickly paints directly on the contact paper seahorse. I can see him puzzling over why the paint isn't really sticking. He picks different colors, trying again to stain the seahorse. Eventually, he focuses on saturating the paper all around and out to the edges, though still comes back to the seahorse, just to check.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Now he's done and ready to see what's next. Once the paint has mostly dried, we slowly peel off the contact paper. We take care not to pull up the paper underneath.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Surprise! The seahorse pops out of the watery colored background exactly as I'd hoped!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

    We create an octopus surrounded by the colors of the rainbow.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Step 6

    Fish swim and jellies float in a dark and scary ocean. H is drawn to black, saying the fish are entering a cave.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 6

  • Step 7

    A hammerhead shark cuts through the sea water like a torpedo.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 7

  • Done!

    I can't wait to frame and hang them in my son's room. This was such a cool way to explore the shapes of sea creatures. I'm thinking watercolor resist paintings could make great homemade birthday gifts too. Or, this could be a magical way to learn the alphabet or numbers by having your child reveal the letters of their name when they paint, or the numbers 1-10. Oh, the possibilities!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 8

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