Watercolor Blow Painting

This unconventional way of painting will open up students to new ways of using tools to make art. They usually think it is silly and therefore their care free demeanor helps to create a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

controlled blow painting creating a tree

A more mindful and controlled work of art, this tree painting asks students to strategically plan the direction of their straw and how forceful their breath should be to achieve a desired product.

finished primary color blow painting

It is magical to watch the primaries cross over one another, blend together and form new colors. It tickles me green, orange and purple every time!

Motivation: You may want to make a historical connection and discuss how art was made before brushes were invented. It is thought that early humans used hollowed out bones to blow pigment over a surface.  Note: I make an effort to inform students that they will only use a watercolor brush to apply bubbles of color to the paper. Our breath should be the only force that makes the color travel across the page and a straw is the main art tool for this activity.

Lesson Development: Using only the primary colors with magenta and turquoise included, students explore blow painting and learn about how their breath force and direction have an effect on their creations. A few drops of colors are placed on the page using a small watercolor brush. The brush is then put aside and the straw is the primary tool. After the watercolor has spread, more drops are added and blown. The following class is focused around using their knowledge of blow painting to form a tree. A brush is used to paint the trunk and add bubbles on the top and bottom to form branches and roots. Connect this experience to observations of nature.

Materials: Although a watercolor set will work out just fine, I have used liquid watercolors for this activity because students need not wet the color cake first before applying the drops. In general, I find that the concentration of the liquid watercolor creates a more vibrant product. Watercolor paper will of course absorb the paint better allowing it to look its best, however for budget reasons and if you wish students to test out their technique on multiple papers, drawing paper will work out fine. I usually place all dry paintings under a stack of books overnight to keep the art from buckling. Smaller brushes work best since a larger puddle will create a less intricate pattern and more of blob when blown with a straw.

Skill Level: Kindergarten and above.

(Top two photos taken by Shannon Timoney Photography)

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