Creating watercolours with your child

You can easily create pigments for dyes or watercolours from scraps found in the kitchen such as onion skin, carrot, beetroot, orange peel, etc…. but you also can collect materials from the garden and explore the potential of leaves, flowers and grass cuts to make watercolours.

You will need:

• A handful of fresh natural material

• Knife or grater

• Mortar and pestle or some kind of grinder / masher

• Small containers with water

• Teaspoons or other tools to scoop and mix

• Brushes, paper or fabric

The first step is to dry your material: the thinner the faster it will dry. It can be air-dried or in the oven. If drying in the oven simply place your sliced or grated matter on baking paper on a baking tray and slowly dry it on low heat (150°C) over a few hours (if the oven is too hot it will alter the colour)

The second step is when dried grind your material into a powder, using a mortar and pestle or a coffee or herb mill or perhaps a masher. If you are preparing different colours at the same time, try to keep the materials separates by keeping your pigments pure the result of the watercolour will be usually more vibrant.

The last step is to dissolve the pigment in water. Hot or warm water will be best. I usually provide a small container with water and the children can scoop in the pigment and mix it. The more pigment the stronger the colour and the thicker the consistency. Also, the finer the powder the smoother your paint will be. If it was not possible to fully pulverise the material you can always filter it once it’s dissolved in water.

Once you created your palette of natural watercolourist’s time to paint. Watercolour paper will bring out the vibrancy of the dyes, but as I said earlier you can experiment on different papers and surfaces. As some of the pigments have been used as dyes you can experiment with painting on fabric.

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