I love holiday decorations. But cookie-cutter crafts are not my thing; being an art teacher, I prefer "artistic" over "crafty." This even applies to the Fourth of July! Why make a red, white and blue pre-designed craft, when you can create a one-of-a-kind, patriotic abstract painting? Using simple materials and classic painting techniques, you too can make perfectly patriotic artworks (that are kid-friendly too; trust me, my three-year-old made one). Here's how:
- watercolor paper (or other heavy white paper)
- watercolor paints (not the dollar store variety)
- salt shaker
- painting supplies (water, towels, etc.)
- optional: tape, cardboard, scrap paper, scissors, acrylic or tempera paint, decorations (red, white and blue sparkles)
How to make patriotic abstract paintings:
Even if you've never painted with watercolors, you can easily achieve great artistic effects with these classic watercolor techniques. Before you begin your abstract paintings, consider attaching your paper to a piece of cardboard and taping down the edges. This will help your paper stay (and dry) flat, instead of wrinkling while damp.
1. Washing and salt
Paint your paper with clear water so it's completely damp (known as "washing"). While wet, drop or brush red and blue paint onto the paper, placing the colors near each other (to let them bleed together). Avoid over-mixing, to avoid purple areas. While the paint is still damp, sprinkle salt all over, then let the painting dry undisturbed. As it dries, the salt will pull away the color, leaving a speckled, snowy, or starry effect.
If your paper is taped to cardboard, hold the board vertical. Fill your brush with wet red or blue paint, and press the brush against the top of the paper. Drops of wet paint will form, then run down the paper, leaving a color trail. If needed, get more water on your brush to make the paint more fluid. Continue to create streaks of red and blue all across your paper for this great abstract painting technique.
When you think of spattering, think of Jackson Pollock's abstract paintings of the mid-1900's. Spatter red and blue paint onto your white paper by holding two brushes like drumsticks, and hitting one paint-filled brush handle against the other handle. For a different look, start with blue or red construction paper, or spatter paint on top of an already dripped or washed abstract painting.
To play up the patriotism, cut patriotic stencils (like stars) out of paper and use a thicker paint to stencil the images onto an already created abstract painting. Then spatter on top of it!
Now that you have a multitude of abstract patriotic paintings, what can you do with them? They can be used as backgrounds for text (such as "America") or for a favorite patriotic quote or lyric (such as presidential quotes, national slogans or the national anthem). They can be cut for other decorations or used in collage projects. Let your kids enhance them with red, white and blue sparkles. Or, simply, frame each abstract painting and appreciate it for its own artistic qualities.
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