Textured Watercolor Paintings

final paintingMay 21, 2015

textured watercolor paintings

Oooooo! I had so much fun doing this  project with my Saturday morning little kid’s art class, and the results were fantastic. It was so rewarding to watch each student playing with the materials, and making creative choices. Each painting turned out very differently and they were so into it, they each made like three or four! I am really excited to share this project with all of you. I am a big advocate of layering and “permutations” with artworks (another post in and of itself), so we used our watercolor paintings as a ground for printmaking the following week. First I will take you through the fun process of making textured watercolor paintings. Stay tuned for a follow-up post where I will introduce you to monotype printmaking with gelatin :). I can’t wait for you to do this project! Yay!


Learning Objectives

Students will learn the techniques of wet-into-wet, wax resist with crayon/pastel, and how to use sea salt, table salt, and plastic wrap to create a textured watercolor painting. This project focuses on combining a variety of watercolor techniques to allow for creative play and material exploration. Encourage students to make several to experiment with mixing the techniques and color theory.


watercolor paper, paintbrush, liquid watercolors, white pastel, sea salt, table salt, saran wrap

watercolor paper, paintbrush, liquid watercolors, white pastel, sea salt, table salt, plastic wrap

  1. Canson XL Watercolor Paper
  2. Blick Liquid Watercolors
  3. White Crayon or White Pastel
  4. Sea Salt
  5. Table Salt
  6. Plastic Wrap
  7. Paintbrush
  8. Container of Water
  9. Paper Towels



Step One: Wax Resist

Since oil and water don’t mix, draw designs on the watercolor paper with white crayon or white pastel (you could use colors too, I chose not to make it too busy with colors) as a foundation layer. When the watercolor paint is added, the wax will resist the paint and it will be visible amidst the added colors.

draw designs with a white crayon/ pastel

draw designs with a white crayon/ pastel

Step Two: Wet-Into-Wet

Dip brush into a container of water and paint the water over the surface of the paper. Once the paper has been wetted, dip a paintbrush into a preferred color and touch it to the paper. Try not to brush with this technique, instead “dab” the paint on and let it spread. Clean the brush and choose another color and allow the new color to pool and bleed into the first color. This will create a neat tie-dye effect. Before I started the project with my students, we reviewed some color theory rules so they were being thoughtful about their color choices. Cover all the white spots, somewhat quickly, making sure the paper stays wet, but also isn’t overly saturated with paint.

wet into wetMay 20, 2015

dab color onto the wet paper and watch it spread

watercolor pooledMay 20, 2015

the wax will resist the watercolor and will show the designs

Step Three: Adding Salt to Create Texture

This is one of my favorite watercolor techniques, and there are a lot more neat-o techniques out there to explore too! Sprinkle sea salt over some of the puddles of colors and watch how it immediately starts to soak up some of the liquid. In other areas, sprinkle of some regular table salt. Both salts soak up the color, but they create two different textures. Leave the salt on the paper, and it gets brushed off after the entire painting is dry.

sea saltMay 20, 2015

sprinkle sea salt over some of the pools of color

table saltMay 20, 2015

sprinkle table salt over other areas of the painting

Step Four: Cover with Plastic Wrap

This is also a favorite watercolor technique of mine, although for this demonstration I made for the blog, I didn’t get the super visible effect that I usually get…it’s all about experimentation though! So, look for areas that don’t have much salt, and layer a ripped off crinkled piece of plastic wrap on top of some paint puddles. The design you see in the wrinkles of the plastic wrap will dry that way and the texture looks suuuper cool, well at least I think so ;).

layer pieces of crinkly plastic wrap on other areas of pooled colors

layer pieces of crinkly plastic wrap on other areas of pooled colors

Step Five: Finishing Touches

Let the painting dry thoroughly before taking off the plastic wrap. Then, stand over a garbage can and brush off all the salt. My little students learned the word “exfoliation” when they were doing this, haha! Some of them were a little over zealous with the salt and had to put some muscle into getting the salt off…Below is a visual aid to point out the various textures achieved with the two kinds of salt and the plastic wrap (although the plastic wrap technique was a bit underwhelming in this example).

there is so much more visual interest with added textures!

there is so much more visual interest with added textures!


to be continued…

I am really excited to show you how to make really gorgeous monotype gelatin prints using these fun watercolor paintings as the background. Of course, I think these paintings are beautiful in and of themselves, but they are so inviting for another layered technique…stay tuned! :)

email any pictures of student artwork to artmousehouse@gmail.com. I can’t wait to see all of your paintings!


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blog portrait_thumbnail3hi! i’m trish, and welcome to my cozy home on the internet. i am an artist, art teacher, life-long-learner, and lover of life. there is not much i don’t love. some of my many favorites include creating with my hands, the color green, birds, smiling, and outdoor adventures. some of my not so favorite things include spiders, bell peppers, and math. (more...)

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