I believe I mentioned how overwhelmingly inspiring and simultaneously despair-inducing visiting the Sargent watercolors show was at the MFA earlier this year. (I look at his work and kind of want to bang my head against a wall, but in a good way?) I had a similar reaction checking out the Turner & the Sea show at PEM earlier this week, where Turner can make oil paintings look like watercolors and watercolors look like oils.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a Sargent, a Turner, or even a Blule to have fun with watercolors — and if the artistry just gets too much, tackle them with science!
Artful Experiments (emphasis on the ‘art is fun’)
Water Pistol Color Mixing – Watercolors are fantastic for exploring color interactions, and misting a canvas prepped with pre-sprinkled paint with a water pistol sounds like a really good summer camp project. I wonder if you could actually shoot liquid watercolor onto a paper? What might happen then?
Watercolor Spray Negatives – I’ve linked these before in a prints post, but the fact remains that this is a beautiful technique and one I still want to try!
Artful Experiments (emphasis on the ‘scientists can have fun too’)
Painted Salt Sculptures – a fun color mixing and absorption activity, with bonus crystal study! I wonder what would happen if you used sugar or some other substance instead of salt?
Make Your own Watercolors 1 – From Flowers or 2 – From Fruits, Vegetables, and Spices – I especially like the first link, but the second has some suggestions for source materials I hadn’t seen elsewhere. This would be a fun activity to do in concert with/relation to a study of pigments in leaves, as well.
Oil and Watercolors, Theme and Variations – Eyedroppers, oil, water, and watercolors make for a great experiment in density and paper marbling!
Erupting Watercolors – This is a combination of multiple science explorations: water absorption, color mixing, chemical reactions – I can’t wait to try this out with a group at the museum. I just need a good story or art object to tie it to! (We’ve got to have a volcano related artwork somewhere in the collection…)