Watercolor Plastic Wrap - Red Close Up

Textured Watercolor Plastic Wrap Technique


Watercolor Plastic Wrap - top image

We had to try this watercolor plastic wrap technique out after seeing it on Art Projects for Kids!

It looked like such a fun and rewarding project that even a toddler could do…

…and one that I really wanted to try myself!

Basically, the idea is to add watercolor paint to paper (generously!) and then press scrunched-up plastic wrap over the top and leave it to dry. The watercolors pool under the plastic wrap, especially at the edges, and create an interesting textured look when dry.

Watercolor Plastic Wrap - Horizontal

How To Do The Textured Watercolor Plastic Wrap Technique

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Step #1) Add the paint.

Maia splashed, splattered, and dabbed the watercolor paint liberally onto the paper. I encouraged her to make big blocks of color the way the activity was presented, which she did to some extent but also enjoyed (as always) mixing the colors.

Watercolor plastic wrap - paint

Step #2) Add plastic wrap.

Next, she added the plastic wrap over the watercolors…

She LOVED wrinkling and adding the saran wrap to the paintings!

Watercolor Plastic Wrap - 2 paintings

Step #3) Let Dry And Peel Wrap.

We left them to dry overnight then peeled off the saran wrap. Cool, huh?

Watercolor Plastic Wrap - Dried

I just think these are great. They look kind of like salt crystals in 2-D form.

I would never have thought to combine saran wrap and watercolor paint, but it’s very effective.

Watercolor Plastic Wrap - Red Close Up

Variations On The Technique

We loved this textured watercolor plastic wrap technique so much that we tried it with the toddler art group.

This is Thalia’s…

Watercolor Plastic Wrap - Art Group

I also brought out some bubble wrap to try in place of the saran wrap.

I think I prefer the randomness of the saran wrap designs although this was fun, too. This one is Nathan’s…

Watercolor plastic wrap - bubblewrap

And another day, Maia and I had just finished a nature walk and she had a basket full of leaves, pinecones, and acorns.

I wondered if the leaves would concentrate the drying watercolors much the way the saran wrap did, creating cool leaf prints.

We applied the watercolor paints to the paper very liberally, as before, but then instead of crumpled saran wrap, we set leaves on top of the watercolors.

Watercolor Plastic Wrap - leaves

The freshly gathered leaves didn’t lie flat for the most part, so we ended up adding saran wrap as well, then pressing the whole thing under a book overnight so that the leaves would have full contact with the paper and paint as the paint dried.

When we removed the saran wrap and leaves in the morning, the effect was very cool!

Watercolor Plastic Wrap - leaf print

For a purer leaf print, I set flat (ie pressed and dried) leaves over the watercolor paint without the saran wrap cover and let dry overnight. It worked perfectly! So if you want just the leaf print, flatten them first. If you want the more artsy design use the leaf/saran wrap combo.

It was fun to experiment with the different materials like saran wrap, bubble wrap, and leaves for these watercolor textured art projects!

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Watercolor Plastic Wrap - Pinterest


  • Reply
    Mommy Bee
    May 4, 2008 at 10:25 am

    LOVE it!!

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle (ART IN HAND)
    May 4, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Oooooh, so cool. Can’t wait to try this one! I think bubble wrap is a great idea. It would be fun to have both the small bubbles and the larger ones. Maybe tin foil would work…you might get really small crinkly effects. Hmmm.

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle (ART IN HAND)
    May 4, 2008 at 11:48 am

    my wheels are really turning now…but speaking of salt crystals, why not throw them on there too? Imagine the effect the next day when you pull of the saran, AND brush off the salt? I’m definitely going to try this myself, and with my own kids, AND with my students! (love watercolors, can you tell?)

  • Reply
    May 4, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    love ti i’ve done the bubble wrap and sprinkling salk on the paintings too!
    the salt when it dries is super cool
    you can also just paint the bubble wrap and press paper on it or pain thte paper and press the bubble wrap too!
    looks like fun we made styrofoam flowers this weekend it was fun!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    May 4, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Yeah. The salt sounds fun. We’ve done salty watercolors with glue also–the glue kind of holds on the salt–but not without. One of the kiddos in our group developed his own painting technique–squeezing glue on paper, adding fingerpaints, then salt. They look great, too. We’re going to try in in art group soon. -Jean

  • Reply
    May 4, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    I am a loyal reader of your posts and love the information. I have gained so much insight and so many great ideas. Thanks for all your time and effort that goes into this. I love the brushes your daughter is using in the pictures from this post. What kind of brushes are those and where did you acquire them? Thanks so much.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    May 5, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Jessica, I’m so glad you like my posts and ideas!
    The brushes are Melissa Doug chunky brushes that I bought at a local toy store. I bet they are fairly widely available and could even be purchased over the internet.
    Hope this helps,

  • Reply
    katie pedersen
    May 7, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    I like this idea. If you get enough water color on, you can also have them throw salt at it and it creates crystals. Then with older kids you can draw in the cool things you see.

  • Reply
    May 20, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Fun idea!

  • Reply
    June 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    yo wast up with these paintings there off the chain

  • Reply
    Adria Janni
    March 6, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    Great idea! We are using watercolors this week as we learn about the rainbow colors. Will give this a try tomorrow. Thank you.

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