Open-Ended Art: Textured Watercolour Fish

It’s really easy to close creativity for our kiddos.

Take a deep breath and repeat after me: I will keep creativity open!

But … how?

Look, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. In fact, when you leave creativity open, you make it a heck of a lot easier on yourself.

Take this fish project, for example. (Download your how-to guide here!)

I pulled out some watercolour supplies (brushes, water, paper towel, plastic wrap, and paper). Then, I gave the kids a quick demo.

I know what you’re thinking: a demo? Isn’t that limiting?

Nope. Kids are wildly creative, but sometimes they need to see the potential of a new skill or technique to be able to build it into their creative toolkit.

If you look closely, you’ll see that they’re using plastic wrap.

I showed them how to make washes, and I pointed out how it’s okay if some of the colours bleed into one another. We used crumpled plastic wrap to add texture by pressing it into the wet paint. I pointed out to my five year old, because he is ready for it, how sticking to a few colours in the same family would let him create some nice blends, without it turning into mucky poop.

Then, we went to work!

As we did this, I worked on my own. I talked through what I was doing a bit, somewhat quietly, so that if they were hearing and interested, they might lean in. But I let them blend their colours however they wanted.

It took about ten minutes, and we set it aside.

…. for two weeks.

Partly, because it needed to dry.

Partly, because we forgot about it.

This year, the kids are being homeschooled, and this week, they’ve been learning about sea-related things (if things float or sink in regular vs. salt water; all about squid; and so on). I took this as a cue to pull the coloured paper back out.

First, the kids scribbled in crayon over top of their painting.

Then, we cut the painting into a bunch of random sized and shaped piece.

The kids played around with the shapes until they had made something they thought was fishy, or an underwater creature. Then, they glued them together and stuck on some googley eyes, because you can’t go wrong with googley eyes!

Now, they have sea creatures, and they had so much fun working on them!

They worked on: blending, textures, water colour techniques, understanding the opacity of colours, fine motor skills (through cutting, gluing and attaching eyes), problem solving (through moving the pieces around until they took on a form they recognized); creativity

How this is open-ended: This supports a creative culture because while they had a what (“make fish”), and a how (with cut up watercolour paper), this was open in the process. They chose how to blend. They chose how much texture to add with the plastic wrap through experimentation. They cut the shapes and they decided how to arrange them.

I offered no suggestions, corrections, advice or praise – until they were finished, when I jumped up and down and proclaimed how beautiful it was. They were left to explore, experiment, and create – my voice would only have shut that all down.

>>>Don’t forget your free downloadable guide to running this project smoothly at home!<<<

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