Copying designs and beginning watercolors (art class lesson 4)

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designs to copy

My quest to uncover the best way for children to copy what they are seeing continues.

I started this class by giving them the sheet above. Each girl got her own sheet plus an empty grid with 12 boxes. There were 20 designs and they had to choose 12 to copy into the individual boxes. For many years I thought copying was an absolute NO No. It wasn’t until I read  Drawing With Children: by Mona Brooks that I learned that some copying is actually very beneficial to children. (I am of course, not talking about copying crafts, but copying images, designs and real life to enable them to draw things they see and to expand on them)

The are learning to see various nuances and are gaining many skills which truly carry over into other areas of learning.

copying designs 1

It is as usual, always interesting to see the different ways the children approach these activities. Some do a quick, basic job,

designs 2

while others are extremely methodical. Some get so methodical that they end up not finishing. I’m sure it is the same way with them in many areas. Art seems to highlight who they are.

designs 3

designs 4

I decided once they were done to try a different method of having them see an image to copy. I covered over most of an elephant and uncovered little by little to see if that made it easier and not so overwhelming to copy. They had to draw as I uncovered that part.

covering up the elephant

elephant 1

elephant 2

elephant 4

elephant 5

elephant 6

elephant 7

This girl added some other parts to her picture which is actually what they will have to do at a later date.

elphant 3

Even though many of the results were quite recognizable I see that some of the girls are starting to find some of these drawing exercises difficult.

I then introduced the girls to watercolor painting for the first time.

In the past I have used Prang Watercolor Set type of watercolors that are so common in so many homes.  It’s a pan of watercolors with a little brush and you use a bit of water.

Even though they have their place, the colors are not so vibrant and I wanted the the girls to really get to see what watercolors are.

After doing research on Amazon I bought a bunch of the Reeves Water Colour Paint Set.

These watercolors come in tubes and the color is very rich.


I gave each girl a piece of watercolor paper with 4 boxes drawn on it.

4 boxes on watercolor paper

I then went over 3 basic watercolor techniques. (I had thought I was going to do 4, which is why there were 4 boxes)

I showed them how to use watercolors straight, which gives rich vibrant color. I then showed them how to make sure the brush was nice and wet to get a real watercolor effect and to spread the paint well. The last technique was to wet the paper first before painting.

filling the boxes

The idea was really to familiarize them with this type of paint as it is different from the tempera they have used.

I then let them experiment and paint using the watercolors and the different techniques.

watercolor picture 1

watercolor picture 2

watercolor picture 3

For this class I used the palettes we were using for the tempera paints but,  in the next class I changed how we use the paint, so stay tuned.

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