Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tape Resist Watercolor Trees - with Salt Effect

I was inspired by this to try a completely different type of art project with the children yesterday. It turned out beautifully.

As I believe I've mentioned before, I have very little art experience. I've never really worked with watercolors myself, but one of my aunts gave us some really nice watercolor paper and I had bought some watercolors for other projects (like the salt art). I found a roll of my husband's tape (I think it's electrical tape) that I thought would peel back off the paper well. We also have salt. So we had everything we needed to try this.

This is how we did the project.

Gather materials.
  • watercolor paper
  • tape
  • watercolors (I chose blue and red because I wanted to start by having the children paint everything blue and then add a little red to the blue to make a darker blue to layer over half the picture. I wanted a wintry look to the picture.)
  • paintbrushes / cup
  • salt (table or coarse)
  • easel (optional)

I prepared the trees with the tape ahead of time and taped them to the easel. Then I let the children wet the paper with a fine mist from a spray bottle.

Next I gave them the paint and had them paint the entire card blue. I had to show them that it was all right to actually paint over the tape and to paint all the way to the edges of the watercolor paper. Then I added some red to the blue watercolor paint. I was aiming for purple, but ended up with a dark blue instead. I told them to re-paint the bottom half of their paper with the darker color. (I picked the bottom because the paint kept dripping down. If we had tried to make the top darker, we would have ended up with drips all over the bottom. An interesting effect, I'm sure, but not what I wanted.)

We took the wet pictures down from the easel and laid them flat on a large piece of cardstock and the children sprinkled salt on their pictures.

We let them dry with the salt in place for an hour or two. Every so often we'd stop by and observe how the salt was turning blue and there was a snowflake effect in the salt around the paint. Then we sat down to brush the salt off.

Finally we pulled off the tape.

The children were amazed and proud at the final product. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed too. I think the end result is quite beautiful and it was simple enough to do with a 2 and 4 year old.

I think we'll do a similar project in the near future, except this time I'll let the children apply the tape any way they'd like and choose their own colors.


  1. I love this idea!! I may have to try it this weekend and if it goes well try it with my students


  2. I love the bright blue and play on negative and positive space.


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