Last week-end families took the garden by storm to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Free First Saturday. Perhaps the most popular event of the day was the art-making activity, called “Salty Scene”, where both kids and parents learned that mixing salt and watercolor paint results in some pretty cool textural effects. We also supplied oil pastels, (similar to crayons but softer and oil-based) which created a resist with the watercolor paint so kids could write their name and combine drawing with painting.
This project is surprisingly simple and engaging to all ages. I was recently babysitting a 3- and 5-year old, and we spent a half hour at the table making “artistic chemistry”. To try it at home, you’ll need iodized table salt, watercolor paper (posterboard, card stock, or any heavy-weight paper will work), a watercolor paint set, brushes, crayons, and water. Follow these simple instructions:
- First make a drawing or write something in crayon.
- Then apply washes of watercolor paint. (The paint will not adhere to areas where crayon was used. )
- While the paint is wet, sprinkle salt onto the paper. A light dusting works best. Too much salt will form into small balls and could damage your paper.
- As washes dry, the salt crystals will suck up pigment gradually, creating light star-like shapes. (Start another painting while waiting for the first one to dry.) Once the painting is dry, brush off excess salt with your hand or a dry sponge.
- Experiment with various types of salt for different textures: sea salt, kosher salt, rock salt, etc. Crush larger salt crystals first before applying to paper.
Check out these salty scenes!