I am so excited to welcome my cousin Lauren Karwoski Magee to Homegrown Friends. Lauren is a mom, an architect and a university-level architecture design studio and drawing instructor. She runs an architecture firm, L K Magee Architecture & Design, and lives on a mountain lake in northwestern New Jersey with her family
I am the mom of two boys (August, 4 1/2, and Miles, nearly 2) and on snowy days, I try to plan projects that will keep them engaged for a good amount of time. Exploring Icicles, Snow and Watercolor Painting is process-oriented, meaning that there is no “beautiful product” at the end. Instead, like many process-oriented projects, we get really involved in working with materials and techniques, exploring different and unexpected ways of working, which typically results in an open-ended project that takes up a good chunk of time because it evolves along with the kids’ interest in it.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR EXPLORING ICICLES, SNOW AND WATERCOLOR PAINTING
liquid watercolors- I created my own by dissolving chunks of old cake-style water colors in water palette to hold the water color paints
paint containters-I reused a plastic egg container from the supermarket
tray or cookie sheet that the paper will fit into
big kid-safe bowls
mittens or gloves
Note: This project creates a “controlled mess” which basically means that there’s some clean-up required as you go. By using trays to catch overflow water you can keep spills to a minimum (hopefully). Of course, since there are kids involved, anything can happen, and probably will.
PART ONE- PAINTING WITH ICICLES AND LIQUID WATERCOLORS
My kids are fascinated by the icicles at our house and, to make them more accessible to them, I bought some inside. This is when the kids’ eyes got really, really big, wondering what I was up to.
Because we would be working with cold materials, I also put mittens on the boys so they would be comfortable (plus, it’s really silly to wear mittens indoors!). I set up painting stations for each child with a sheet of watercolor paper set into a tray, tray of liquid watercolors, an eye dropper for each boy and an icicle. I also grabbed a few rags for the inevitable mopping up of spills. We started by using the eye dropper to drip watercolors onto the paper. Watercolor paper doesn’t absorb the liquid paint as quickly as other paper might, so the fluid sits on top. We were then able to drag the tips of the icicles through the watercolor paint to stretch the puddles out, making lines and shapes, drips and drops, all over the page.
We rolled the icicles through the paint and dipped the icicles directly into the paint cups themselves. The melting water from the icicles became part of our compositions.
My older son has been really eager to mix new paint colors (a current favorite book of his is Mix It Up by Hervé Tullet) so we also experimented with color mixing in the puddles we created on the page. When the boys were done, I carefully poured the excess water from the tops of each painting into the trays, and poured that water into the sink. We let the paintings dry flat on newspaper while we moved onto the next phase of our winter weather work.
PART TWO- LIQUID WATERCOLORS ON SNOW
When it’s very cold out, and the snow is too deep, our time outdoors is limited. But, bringing some snow inside is pretty much the best thing ever in my house, and that’s what we did for the next part of the project. I scooped snow into two big bowls and gave one to each boy. They used the eye droppers to drip watercolor paint onto the snow and watched it spread through the fluffy snowflakes.
Then, we reloaded on snow and pushed several icicles into each bowl so they stood up like ice towers. More watercolor paint was dripped down the icicles, turning them and the surrounding snow different colors. They used the icicles to dig around and make little multi-color caves in the snow. We played around with flashlights shining them through the colorful snow, too. At the end of this, the snow was pretty well melted so I drained it into the sink.
PART 3 – SNOW SNACK
Not quite ready to be done with our winter weather work, I scooped some fresh snow into small bowls and added color sprinkles on top. They used the icicles to eat the snow confection. Yum!
August said he was excited for next winter because he loves icicles, so I promised to collect a few icicles to store in the freezer so we can take them out during the summer and enjoy a bit of cold weather then, too, when we miss it most.