Kites in Cloudy Skies: Painting Clouds in Watercolour (April 2013)

Paint-boxes containing water-soluble paints (watercolour or bodycolour) are a staple in most schools and kindergartens. However, there is a real knack to using watercolours, and young children can find the process challenging – they must remember to add enough water and not mash the brush into the paint discs, they must continue to keep the brush wet and try to paint with the tip of the bristles, with a delicate touch. Handling and controlling such a watery medium is very tricky. This project for five and six year olds was all about learning some basic watercolour techniques and a really cool trick for creating clouds!

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I gave each child an A5 sized sheet of watercolour paper, which is thicker and more absorbent than normal drawing paper – crucial when working with watercolour paints.

blog DSC_1817I brushed each child’s paper with water, using a 1 inch household paintbrush, and then they added blue watercolours with a medium sized brush.

I encouraged them to use long, horizontal brush strokes and blend the colours as they spread across the wet paper surface.

Next I showed them how to create clouds using a scrunched up paper towel to dab the blue watercolour, removing it gradually to reveal the white paper below.

When they were happy with their clouds, some children added a little grey to the underside of each cloud, softening it by dabbing again with the paper towel.

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Grey tones help to give a more realistic look to clouds, as they usually appear to be darker at the bottom, especially when rain is coming! A few kids wanted to make rainy skies, and created vertical/diagonal streaks in the blue paint by dragging a paper towel across the surface.

blog DSC_1795While their skies were drying, the children made colourful kites. They drew a diamond shape on the shiny side of sticky back plastic. Then the paper-backing was peeled back and I taped the plastic to the table, sticky side up. The kids selected colourful tissue paper shapes and placed them on the sticky surface, before sealing everything in (like a sandwich!) with another layer of sticky back plastic.

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The children cut out their kites, ready to fly into their beautiful cloudscapes. Some drew kite strings in pencil, while others added a strip of tissue paper to create a kite tail!

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Each picture is very unique, some skies are a little bit stormy, others rainy, and others are bright and springlike. This is art to make your spirit soar!

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For another weather-inspired project using a similar sticky back plastic technique, please take a look at:

Here comes the rain again… Raincloud Window Pictures (November 2012)


  1. Love that you give these kids real lessons in HOW to actually use a particular art medium, rather than a prototype for them to learn to simply copy. Thus allowing them ability to replicate activities on their own again in future and improve upon their techniques and tactics.
    Nice work!

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