Watercolour Painting for Children: A Summer Meadow

How's your summer going? Here in the UK it has been HOT HOT HOT! I't's been fabulous fun for us, but the poor meadows have not been happy - however now we have some rain and they're starting to recover. Maybe we can help them to feel better again by painting a lovely colourful one? Worth a try, yes?

Yes, let's begin.

You'll need

  • a helpful adult to keep you company and watch you make a beautiful painting
  • your watercolours
  • some good quality thick watercolour paper 
  • one round watercolour brush - somewhere around a size 6
  • two or three water pots
  • oil pastels in bright summery colours, or wax crayons

You can find my recommendations for paints etc here..

Flowers in meadows tend to grow in little groups, so choose a nice bright red oil pastel or wax crayon and draw bunches of three, four or five small, almost round, squiggles. Some of them can be dots, and some tiny lines. The first picture here shows all of my red flowers...

And this picture shows just one of the clusters close up so that you can see my squiggles more clearly. I'm sorry the photo is a bit blurred!

Now let's take a yellow oil pastel or wax crayon and draw a few little clusters of yellow flowers...

There now. I think I have enough flowers. Oh you want more? OK let's add some orange ones and lots and lots of white ones. You can't see the white ones right now but watch them pop out like magic later!... 

Enough already! I'm going to stop there with the flowers. You can put more in if you want to, it's your painting and you must make it how you want it to be.

When you've got enough flowers in your meadow, take a light green and a dark green oil pastel or wax crayon and drawn in a few stems. Only a few, mind. Leave plenty of flowers without stems because in a meadow you can't see every stem. We're going to add lots of grasses with our watercolours later so we need to leave room.

OK, we're done with the oil pastels and wax crayons, you can put them away now.

Time to paint

Here's where we get our watercolours and brush out. 

You need lots of clean water - two or three pots of the stuff, so that you can always have a clean clean brush. 

Our first job is to wet the paper. Take a big brushload of clean water and paint it across the top of the paper, all the way down to the bottom. You can leave a few gaps if you want clouds, or you can paint the whole paper if you want a clear day. Have a look at the next photo so that you can see how much water you need on your paper. It's quite a lot!

Dip your brush back into your clean water and then onto your sky blue paint in your palette. It's your sky, so it can be any blue that you want it to be. I've used Sennelier's Cinnereous Blue.

Give the brush a swirl around and perhaps add a little more water until you have really nice juicy blue paint on your brush. Now paint across the top of the page.

Keep the point of the brush over the edge of the paper so that the belly of the brush does all the work, and hold your paper up a little as you paint. Watch how the paint follows the water down the page!

Can you see how my paper is starting to curl with all that water? Don't worry if yours does this too, if you've used good quality thick watercolour paper it will straighten out as it dries.

Is the sky still wet? No? Wait for if to be completely dry and then wet the whole page with lots more clean water.

Is it nice and wet now? Take another good brushload of blue, lots and lots of juicy blue, and paint over the bit that you just did.

Now dip your brush into the clean water without swishing it around, then touch the brush to the bottom edge of the blue, and paint along the whole bottom edge with water. Only touch the bottom edge or you'll disturb the lovely magic that's happening above.

What we're doing here is helping the blue paint to keep moving down the paper. Here's a thing - if you hold the paper up then the paint will run down the page just like we want it to.

Do you see the puddles of blue paint on that last photo? Do you have some? Dip your brush in the clean water again and give those puddles a helping hand by touching the brush to the bottom edge and sweeping across the page again.

Keep doing this, always just touching the bottom edge of the blue, until your blue fades away.

See how much my paper curled! And now it's dried it's flat again.

Wash all of that blue off your brush in your dirty water, and then wash your brush again in clean water, and then again in another pot of clean water. You need your brush and water to be really clean when you pick up yellow paint.

Is your sky completely dry? I mean really really dry? 

Does it feel colder than a sheet of the same paper that you've not painted on today? Then it;s not dry. Go and do something else and come back in a little bit.

Is it really dry now? OK, let's find that yellow paint.

So with a bright yellow paint on your brush (I'm using Sennelier's Primary Yellow) paint some grasses growing up over the meadow flowers. You can paint right over those flowers and they will pop right back up! This is because watercolour won't stick to oil pastels or wax crayons. In art-speak this is called a 'resist'.

Start at the bottom of each piece of grass, press your brush onto the paper at the bottom and lift it off as you come to the top. That will make them look like they're growing right there on your paper.

Now find a warm yellowy-green. I'm using winsor and newton's olive green. You can use any green that you like because this is your meadow, not mine, and not your mum's, your dad's or your great auntie Susie's. Paint some more grass just like you did before.

Next choose a bluey-green. I'm using winsor and newton's "blue-green yellow shade". Paint in even more grass.

Now add a little bit of red to your green to make it even darker. I've added crimson to the "blue-green yellow shade".

Paint in the very last of your grasses, keeping these ones quite short and low. The dark green puts the shadows and depth into the meadow.

Can you see how some of the greens are mixing and merging together? I love the way watercolour does this. But oh no, I have ended up with puddles of dark green! Have you? Never fear, just stand your paper on a piece of kitchen towel and watch it soak away. You can rock your paper forwards to help if it's not draining properly.

Let it dry and, TA DA you have painted a summer meadow!

Remember to write your name on it!



If you want your painting to appear in the gallery here, send your photos to me on facebook, by email to StephanieGuyFineArt@gmail.com or tag me on Instagram.

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