Creating Watercolor Method Charts: Beginner Watercolor Lesson Plan

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Watercolor Chart

In this water color project students will create a chart which will allow them to see different methods for working in watercolor. Because this is an experiment in technique, it would be beneficial to have students label each section when the paint is dry so that the chart may be used as a future reference.

To create unity in their charts you may have students:

  • use either warm or cool colors only
  • stick with one subject matter when creating their squares
  • work with a pair of complimentary colors only


These are basic terms for students to know:

  • wet-in-wet: a painting technique in which wet color is applied to a wet surface
  • wash: apply a thin coating of paint
  • dry-brush: squeezing most of the paint out of a brush and applying the brush lightly to the paper
  • resist: using a material, like wax or grease crayons, that repel paint
  • unity: when all of the elements of a piece of art combine to make a balanced, harmonious, complete whole
  • dilute: to water down
  • hue: the color of a pigment or object
  • analogous: related colours such as yellow, yellow orange, orange, orange red, red


  • watercolor paint (tray paints work fine)
  • brushes
  • black pens or thin markers
  • crayons
  • 12x18 inch sheet of watercolor paper
  • newspaper (to put under paper)
  • water containers (one for clean water, one to rinse brushes)
  • sea salt
  • cardboard
  • plastic wrap
  • sponges
  • paper towels


1. Have students fold their paper into nine sections by folding into thirds lengthwise and horizontally.

2. For each of the squares demonstrate the following techniques and have students repeat the process in a section of their chart:

  1. wash: have students paint even horizontal strokes of the same value across the section.
  2. wet-in-wet: dip a brush in clean water and across a section of their paper. Then dip the brush into color and touch the tip into the wet section. (the pigment will spread) Have students add a related color like yellow/orange, blue/violet.
  3. dry brush: students should remove most of the water from their brush and then dip it into a color. Brush it over the newspaper before their section of paper to remove most of the liquid. This is a good method for making textures like grass, branches, or fur.
  4. salt: use two analogous colors to cover a square with paint. While the pigment is still wet, have students sprinkle salt over the area. After the area is dry, brush the salt off. The salt will make the paint below lighter in pigment. This technique can be used to create a field of flowers, snow, or leaves on a tree.
  5. sponge: have students dip a small section of sponge into watercolor and print into a square of their chart. This process can be used to create clouds or tree tops.
  6. blotting: have students paint a wash of pigment into a section of their chart. With a paper towel, students should blot areas of wet paint.
  7. cardboard: have students mix one color of paint and water into a section of the lid of the paint box. Using the edge of the cardboard, dip into the mixture and then print details onto the section of their chart. Cardboard is a great tool to create lines in painting for details like doors, fences, roofs, windows or bricks.
  8. plastic wrap: after applying a wash of paint across a section, students should crumple a piece of plastic wrap and press it into the surface of their paper.
  9. resist: students should draw a pattern or image within their square using a crayon. White or yellow crayons work best. Students will then paint over their design with one or two different values.

3. When their charts are completely dry, students should label each section with the technique used.