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Watercolor Resist Art with Young Children

by Jean Van't Hul
April 3, 2022
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Watercolor resist art with oil pastels and liquid watercolors is a simple and beautiful art technique for kids of all ages.

Updated May 2022

Have you tried watercolor resist art with oil pastels and liquid watercolors? It’s a simple and lovely art technique for any age and one that we revisit over and over.

We’ve done this art activity with our kids and toddler art classes over the years and it’s always a hit.

You start out by drawing with oil pastels on watercolor paper. Then paint over your drawings.

The oily oil pastels resist the watery liquid watercolor paint (oil and water don’t mix, remember?) so while the paint soaks into the paper, it just beads off the oil pastel lines, swirls, and scribbles.

It’s beautiful! We never get tired of seeing this kind of watercolor resist!

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Watercolor Resist Art with Oil Pastels & Liquid Watercolors

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MATERIALS

Some Notes About Materials

*You can also use crayons for this project, too, but we especially like oil pastels because of how vibrant and smooth they go on without too much pressure.

**Any sturdy paper or card stock works fine. We often cut down a big sheet of poster board into smaller pieces to use for watercolor art when we run out of watercolor paper.

***If you don’t have liquid watercolors, you can use watered-down food coloring. Or just use a watercolor paint palette.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Draw

    Draw with the oil pastels on the watercolor paper.

    drawing with oil pastels

  2. Paint

    Paint over the oil pastel drawing with liquid watercolor paint.

    When doing this with a toddler art group, we typically give the toddlers each a paintbrush and an individual cup of watered-down liquid watercolor paint to start with. And then invite them to swap or share colors after they explore the first color.

    watercolor resist art

  3. Dry

    Finally, let your artwork dry and display it.

watercolor art
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

We often tape sheets of watercolor paper to pieces of cardboard first for our toddler art classes. We like to do this (when we have the extra time) for a few reasons:

  • The tape creates a nice, white border around the artwork (you remove it after letting the watercolor paint dry). You can use masking tape, washi tape, or blue painter’s tape.
  • The sturdy backing keeps the paper flat until the wet watercolor paint dries.
  • It holds the paper in place while the kids work. We often tape paper directly to the table or a plastic placemat with young kids, to hold the paper in place. The cardboard is simply a more portable way to do that, so better for group situations like an art class.

Have you tried watercolor resist art with your kids? If not, we highly recommend it!

watercolor resist
Photo by Andrea Martelle

More Watercolor Art Activities for Kids

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Watercolor Resist Art with Young Children

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