Have you and your kids been to Phipps Conservatory lately? If not, then you all should have been at PTLL this week for Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group, where we fashioned our own colorful, flutter-full butterflies out of white craft paper and watercolors.
Real butterflies can be divisive amongst children, but the older your children get, the more likely they are to be delighted by the colorful creatures. Because of their brightly colored wings and harmless reputation, butterflies can make a great gateway into learning about and appreciating the insect world.
For our process, we again used liquid watercolors, diluting them with water just enough to create a bold color. Then we added white crayons to the work supplies, so that our little artists could experiment with artistic “resists,” where the painting covers all but a specified surface.
Crayon-watercolor resists are extremely fun and very easy to achieve. Simply let your child color with the white crayon on the painting surface before beginning to paint. Once he or she starts to apply the paint, he or she will see how the paint is resisted by the crayon-colored areas. This can allow them to create intricate details throughout their masterpiece painting.
Want to add more glitz to your watercolor butterflies? Add glitter to one of your watercolors. It will spread on effortlessly with the rest of the paint and gleam in the light once the work is dry. For a purely textural addition, try salt or fine grain sand.
The fun doesn’t have to stop at painting. Once dried, allow your kids to embellish their butterflies with markers, colored pencils, stickers, tissue paper, etc. The watercolored surface makes a great base in which to create a layered, textured work of art.
Once the butterflies are finished, mount them on the wall or, using fishing line or fine thread, hang them from the ceiling so they can flutter in the breeze.
One last tip: Cut your own butterfly shapes! We have used pre-made designs before, notably with the diffusion paper leaves and the decorative crowns, but for the most part, the Art Group sticks to crafts that can be designed and cut out by hand. This is a cheaper and more effective way to get the most out of your art supplies, even if it does mean a little extra work.
You know what goes great with a butterfly craft? A caterpillar craft? And what goes great with both? Picture books! Check out the following video (from the fine librarians at Abilene Public Library in Texas) for a great springtime set of reading and activities:
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.