Art Group – Wednesday, May 2

April showers bring May flowers, so it seemed fitting for the Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group to start off the month by making some flowers of our own. Of course, instead of being a product of soil, seed, sun, and rainfall, these flowers were made of simple coffee filters and watercolors.

Last time we used watercolors on diffusion paper, we filled spray water bottles and eye-droppers with watercolors and let the kids use the prepared paint for their projects. This time, we did things a little different. Instead of using pre-mixed liquid watercolor and water, we used just the liquid watercolor. The kids painted whatever they liked on their coffee filters – designs, pictures, patterns – and once they were finished painting, they sprayed the painting with water. This allowed them not only to enjoy the painting process, but also the process of water hitting the paint, making it bleed and spread around the filter.

This sort of backwards application process for watercolors really only works with liquid watercolor paint, which is what we prefer to use at the Toy Lending Library. As discussed in prior Art Group posts, these are concentrated liquid watercolors that, when added to water, offer a more vibrant, easier to use alternative to the normal dry watercolor palettes.

The watercolor first, water second application process allows children to really observe the effect plain water has on the paint. They can watch as the colors thin and spread, as they blend with the other colors on the work surface, how the water changes the patterns and designs they have created. Diffusion paper is, of course, ideal for this kind of project, but it will also work on traditional paper, as well as cardstock, recycled paper, and tissue paper. (Amount of water used and drying times will vary.)

The icing on the cake? (Or, should we say, the petals on the flower?) The kids got to use spray bottles, something that may not strike some parents as a desirable toy, but has shown an enduring popularity with little ones. Provided the use in a prepared area (outside, arts and crafts table, etc.) the benefits of having your kids use spray water bottles in their art-making are immense. Not only does it teach them a different form of applying paint to a surface, but it also engages their coordination, offering a nice exercise in fine motor skills. (Just keep a towel and set of replacement newspaper to sop up the excess water.)

Once the watercolors are dry on the filter, the kids could fold and scrunch them into blossoms or keep them as circular disks of watercolor art. Above are a few of the blooms from our coffee filter garden. Want to help your kids turn their watercolor coffee filters into their own flower garden? Check out the below video for a basic assembly technique:

Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group meets every Wednesday at 10 am and is open to all members and visitors (with paid admission to PTLL’s playspace). The group is run by Megan Spak and Elisabeth Moyer, with assistance by Emily Fear.

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