Students use a crayon resist technique with watercolor paints to create a tropical fish scene. A special "secret ingredient" creates a watery effect.
- Several pictures of brightly colored tropical fish
- Practice (scrap) drawing paper
- fat markers
- 12x15 watercolor paper
- Watercolor paints
- Watercolor brushes, (small and large)
- Water containers
- Introduce the lesson by viewing and discussing pictures and books of tropical fish. Using available resources, lead the students in a discussion about the different shapes, colors, and patterns they observe.
- Look at several different kinds of fish mouths and caudal fins at http://www.seaworld.org/Aquademics/tetra/artworksheet3.htm
- Demonstrate for the class how they can draw each fish by combining basic shapes (rectangles, triangles, squares, circles) and lines.
- Give students practice paper and fat markers. Guide them through the process of drawing several different types of tropical fish. Allow time for "practice" drawing. (The fat markers will encourage them to draw large and eliminate the urge to erase.)
- Hand out watercolor paper and crayons. Before the final drawing begins, discuss unity and repetition in art. Tell the students they may pick only one fish to draw but that it must be repeated at least three times on their paper. Encourage them to overlap some of their fish and also to allow parts of their composition to exceed the boundaries of the paper.
- Using one color of crayon, have the students choose their favorite fish and redraw it on their watercolor paper three to four times.
- When the fish are complete, allow the students to draw seaweed or coral. Again, encourage the students to overlap to create depth. Students should go over all of the outlines to create strong, heavy crayon lines.
- Bubbles may be added with a white crayon.
- Have students wet their watercolors by dropping clean water from their brush into each pan of color.
- As the water is soaking in, tell the students they may choose only two or three colors to paint their fish. Since this is a "family" of fish, they should be painted somewhat the same.
- Beginning with one color, have the students paint this color on the same spot on each fish. The crayon lines will keep the watercolor paint from spreading into other areas.
- Use the second and third colors to paint the remaining areas of the fish.
- After completing the fish, students may paint the seaweed or coral. (At this point, demonstrate how to blend another color over the wet paint of the seaweed. Wet on wet! Remind the students to avoid blending complimentary colors unless they want brown!)
- After the fish have dried, have the students wet the blue and one analogous (a blue neighbor, either green or violet) color in their watercolor pans.
- Demonstrate for the students how to create a wash. Using the lid of the watercolor box as a tray, fill the middle section with clean water. Add several brushes full of blue and the analogous color to create a "water-like" color. Make sure you mix enough paint to paint all of the water area.
- Using the large watercolor brush, quickly paint the remaining white paper.
- Watch the paper drying and, just before it loses its shine, sprinkle salt on the water areas. When you apply the salt is crucial. If the wash is too wet, the salt will absorb too much paint and melt, creating spots that are too big. If the wash is too dry, the salt won't absorb enough paint and you won't get any snowflakes. Don't use too much salt as it ruins the delicacy of this effect. Don't try to arrange the grains of salt.
- Leave the painting flat to dry thoroughly. Be patient! When it's completely dry, brush the salt off with your hand or a clean, dry brush.