Three white thought bubble clouds on a sky blue background

The Weather Inside: Wax Resist Watercolor Cards

May 14, 2021
– By Zoe Silverman

While Vincent van Gogh was hospitalized in 1889 he maintained a correspondence with his brother Theo while continuing to create artwork like the painting Hospital at Saint-Rémy (1889). How would you describe the weather in this painting? What might that tell us about how van Gogh was feeling as he created it? How can we use the weather to describe our own emotions? For the activity below you will create a watercolor painting that reflects your feelings to share with a loved one.

Hospital at Saint-Remy, Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh, "Hospital at Saint-Remy", 1889

Supplies:

  • Watercolors
  • Paintbrush
  • Watercolor postcards or watercolor paper
  • White crayon
  • Washi tape
  • Water
  • Paper towels
  • Salt (optional)
watercolor painting supplies

1. Gather your art supplies. Cut down watercolor paper to postcard size.

2. Set up your art-making station. Choose a hard surface that won’t mind getting wet (tables are great). If you would like to create a white border around your artwork, tape your paper down to the surface on all four sides using Washi tape. The tape will resist the paint.

washi tape, watercolor paper

3. Draw using your white crayon! Press down hard to make bold lines. Experiment with happy lines and sad lines, outlines, or filled-in shapes. Tilt the paper back and forth in the light to help you see what you have drawn.

4. Paint over your drawing with watercolors. Experiment with bold colors and light washes (little bit of paint mixed with a lot of water). Try wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry painting. The crayon will resist the watercolor where you paint over it!

Optional: Try sprinkling salt on the wet paint to create a cool texture.

5. Let your painting dry completely before removing the tape and brushing off the salt.

6. Send your card to someone you love! What do you want them to know about the place you've painted?

watercolor rainbow

This activity was facilitated for families of the Inner City Education Foundation schools as a part of the Hammer's Art + Mindfulness for Families series.