Thursday, June 29, 2017

Zen-Art Birch Trees in Snow

If you’ve never sprinkled salt in wet watercolor paint, this is a great project to try out the effect. Students use masking tape to tape off sections of the picture they want to keep white (trees and moon) and a white crayon or pastel for the snow.

Supplies: watercolor paper, watercolor paints (liquid watercolors work best), table salt, masking tape, black sharpies, and white crayons.

  1. Using masking tape, students taped off three or more trees. I encouraged students to make their trees different widths––using one to three strips of tape.      
  2. Next, students cut or ripped up smaller pieces of masking tape to create the branches.
  3. A sticky dot can be used to make a moon.
  4. Using a Sharpie (or black pastel), have student draw a line (not too straight) across the bottom of their page. It can go right over the masking tape as this will be pulled up. 
  5. Students can use either a white pastel or a white crayon to fill in the area below the Sharpie line. 
  6. Now they’re ready to paint! Have students press the edges of their masking tape flat against the paper before you hand out the paint and salt.
  7. Using all colors or a limited palette, student should paint a juicy layer of watercolor paint across background. They can paint right over their masking tape trees, but should be careful of puddles that might leak under the tape if left too long. 
  8. DO NOT have students paint the entire picture and then try and add salt. The watercolor paint will have dried and the salt will have no effect!!! Students must paint section by section, sprinkling salt over the wet paint as they go.
  9. Double check to make sure each student got paint right up to the edge of their trees and painted over the snow, before setting them aside to dry.
  10. Pictures should be completely dry before peeling off the masking tape. I have students brush the salt off over a trash can.
  11. Lastly, using Sharpies, students can outline their trees and moon, and then "zentangle" inside the blank space of the trees. I talked about geometric and organic shapes and drew examples of patterns on the board.