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Windows and sky color!

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

The days are much shorter and we are seeing more sunsets before bedtime here in San Diego. Sunsets make me think of the beautiful children's book "Sky Color" by Peter H. Reynolds. It's a story about a girl who doesn't have blue, so she paints the sky using other colors. Here is a fun process art project based on this book, great for kids age 3 and up. If you want to learn more about the benefits of process art you can read my old blog post about it here.

After reading another children's book called "Windows" by Julia Denos I had been thinking about ways to do a painting project involving a window. Last week my daughter's Kindergarten teacher asked me if I could teach another art project, and we decided this would be a fun one to try.

Supplies needed: 12 x 18 Watercolor paper, 1/2 inch blue painters tape, pan watercolors or cake tempera, watercolor brushes, containers for water, paper towels, white tempera paint, sponges (cut up), and plates.

I started by taping the edges of 12 x 18 watercolor paper, then I put on two more pieces of tape, across the middle and down the middle. It ended up looking like the image below. My blue tape was thick, so I cut it down the middle and tore it...this part took forever. I highly recommend just purchasing 1/2 inch blue painters tape. Do this part the night before or day of, the longer you leave the blue tape on the harder it can be to take off.

Next set out the watercolors, water for washing brushes, paint brushes and paper towel. You may want to remove some of the colors (brown, black and green) to keep the pallet lighter and easier to manage.

Show the children how to use watercolors. Important things to remember include washing brushes before putting them into a new color. Don't dig too hard into watercolor pans, just dip the tip of the brush in, use lots of water and try to avoid making brown (by mixing too many colors).

Tell students to close their eyes and try to remember the most beautiful sky colors they have ever seen. Talk about colors and what other colors they have seen in the sky besides blue. Then set them to work. Instruct them to work across the whole page, to think of it as a window they are looking out. Some kids will make 4 different pictures, that is okay. This is process art, they shouldn't all look the same in the end. Let them have choices and freedom to experiment.

Below you can see when I did this at home with my kids I didn't limit their colors. I'd rather they learn how to use all of them. When given enough experiences with paint they will all eventually learn not to make mud color, my 5 year old daughter is testament to that. My 3 year son old still loves to make brown, black and mud. In fact he plays his colors like the piano, by dragging his brush through all of them. If they do this remind them to wash their brush before the next color. My 5 year old started in one section and did 4 different "skies," my 3 year old just had fun with the process.

In my daughter's kindergarten class we limited their colors and took out green, black and brown. See below how they turned out.

After they completed the colors I read them the book "Windows" by Julia Denos. Then we laid out white tempera paint on plates with sponges. Show them how to use the sponges to make clouds. They can dab the paint on, they can swirl the sponge or they can make little rainbow shapes.

They are done when they say they are done! Remember, they don't have to look like our version of a sky. Some will be muddy, some will have strange colors, it is all okay. They are learning that art is fun, becoming confident in their painting skills and being creative.

Carefully peel the tape off. If you leave it on too long it will really start to stick, so be careful! Pull slowly at an angle to help it come off clean.

To me these are more than just windows and sky, these are beautiful abstract works of art! Below you can see a hand print made it into my daughter's "window." And my son's was purely about process and playing with the materials. Both to me are unique, beautiful and fun to look at.

I did a similar project based on the book "Sky Color" in the past using white oil pastels for clouds and watercolor over them. You can read more about this other way of doing it in my old blog post here.

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