Making your own watercolors

3 04 2008

At Easter some lovely blogger posted how they did watercolor painting with left over egg dye. (Forgive me, I’ve forgotten where I saw it. Please let me know if it was you so I can link.) I thought it was a fine idea and set aside our easter egg dye in tightly covered wide mouth Ball canning jars. I finally picked up a large tablet of watercolor paper on sale and let Seth at it. I allowed him to pick 3 colors and stuck to my guns this time. There was no way I was going to let him do all 6 colors. To my surprise he gave up the battle fairly quickly. I was also happy to finally realize that I could put a different brush in each color. What I’m going for here is not to have all paintings look like they were painted with the single color brown. Guess what? It worked. He still really liked mixing colors but the limitation of 3 colors with 1 brush per color really helped preserve some areas of the original colors.

This really differed from using dry cakes of watercolor which Seth has done many times and asked to do so again after making the above creation.

Not only does Seth prefer a different size brush with this method but he uses much fewer brush strokes. Personally, I think it has something to do with all the effort it takes to wet down the cake of paint to begin with. Of course that’s part of the fun.

Next time? The wet on wet method where I’ll have him paint the paper with water before using the liquid dye. That way we can watch the colors bleed more into the paper instead of pool and only bleed with other colors. Maybe we could do a combined project like this from Bloesem Kids where Seth can do the painting and I’ll draw flowers over it. A little mother/son collaboration if you will. The best part of all this? I can have great liquid watercolor on hand without needing to buy, and more importantly store, any more special art supplies. Here’s the recipe I used, although the measurements are VERY forgiving.


  • 1 tbs vinegar
  • 10-15 drops of food coloring
  • 1/2 to 1 cup boiling water

Mix together and let cool to room temperature.

Give it a whirl and let me know how it turns out!



3 responses

4 04 2008
painted fish studio

seth has created some frame-worthy pieces!

4 04 2008

your seth and my Peanut would get along “swimmingly”…mine is big on battling the color mixing too. this is such a great idea as since easter DYE has been such a BIG deal in our activities…another great use :)

15 09 2008
Is it art if you don’t know you’re doing it? « Three Sneaky Bugs

[…] has been enjoying the use of black in his paintings as of late. The other two were done using our homemade liquid watercolors. They have a much more pastel subtle quality to […]

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