I was so taken with Catherine Rayner's illustrations when I stumbled across a few on the world wide web. I did a little digging until I connected her beautiful watercolor sketches to her website which can be found here: www.catherinerayner.co.uk.
Catherine is an award winning author and illustrator. Her artwork features mostly animals and showcases her amazing ability to coax and entice watercolors to make the most amazing color and texture combinations.
She was a perfect artist to explore with my classes when I needed a simple project that highlighted the different values that you could achieve with watercolor. First grade has been talking about authors and illustrators in their classroom and it was a great tie in where they had already been talking about the likes of Beatrix Potter and Leo Leonni in their homeroom.
We did a quick pencil drawing of rabbit portrait based on Catherine Rayner's, Benard's Ears print, stressing the importance of drawing lightly. Student then experimented with mixing different tones and tints of brown, being encouraged to use that dirty area of the watercolor mixing palette (hey, that's where all the best colors are kept!). We talked simple watercolor strategies of wetting an area first in some places and in others using our brush like a pencil to outline some areas and then coax the paint down with a bit of water. These were hard concepts for first graders but a large number of them really did a nice job listening and they came out with great results.
I typically use Crayola and Prang watercolors in my classroom, like in this lesson above but recently I switched to using Koh-I-Noor brand with certain groups of kids with great results. I even sprung for Windsor & Newton Travel palettes with my older art club kids, these are awesome watercolors. I had to use my Artsonia money to make these purchases, but the results are wonderful with a higher quality paint.
What do you all use in your classrooms?
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