Have a Chill Paint Party with Frozen Watercolors
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What was your hypothesis?
I met a smiley pre-school art teacher at a party. We chatted about art and The Artist’s Way. She told me one of her favorite things to do with the kids is frozen watercolors. I thought it might be fun, so I tried it with a couple of friends!
What did your experiment entail?
In this easy craft, you mix liquid watercolors with water in ice cube trays. Plop a Q-tip in and put it in the freezer. Once frozen, pop them out and play with them on watercolor paper!
Some tips on materials:
Liquid watercolors: I only dimly realized that you could get watercolors that weren’t dried little cakes in a tray. These little tubes of concentrated color are quite affordable, and a little blob is enough to deeply tint a whole ice cube's worth of water.
Ice cube trays: At the ends of mine were sections that were connected. Of course, the watercolors will run together in these (it seems so obvious in retrospect…). If you are going to use them, make them the same color or at least colors that blend nicely. Keep the trays after you pop them out as a place to put them while you are working. Otherwise they run together when they get melty.
Q-tips: These will be your handles. My pre-school teacher sage told me you usually use toothpicks, but she uses Q-tips so the little ones don’t poke themselves. I'm not much less prone to poking myself than a small child, so I err on the soft side.
Watercolor paper: You could do this on other paper, but it’s going to get soggy fast. Watercolor paper is thicker and can handle lots of moisture.
Salt: Salt makes the watercolors do interesting things. Sprinkle it on before and/or after to experiment!
What was it like?
At first, the ice cubes weren’t letting go of much color. But as soon as they got a little bit melty, things got exciting! It was really different than painting with a brush. I had much less control and was more going with what was happening.
Our regular chatter dropped as we all became absorbed into our paintings. When we did talk, we spoke more slowly. We mused about our relationships to each color and how it has changed throughout our lives. Somehow this turned into talking about myths and folk legends. I think we got into a different brain wave. The whole experience was deeply relaxing.
What were your results?
I didn’t expect the rich conversation and relaxation that came with this craft for pre-schoolers! Yes, this taught me the benefits of frozen watercolors as immersive art. But most of all, it reinforced for me why experimentation is so life-giving. You can hear about something and think you know what it will be like, but you don’t know until you experience it yourself.
Art is surprising precisely because it is not precise. It is not manufacturing a product. Art is allowing yourself to play. Art is tinkering with the elements and discovering that the whole is greater than, stranger than, and more beautiful than the sum of its parts.