Ahhh, there’s something totally magical about snowflakes. It doesn’t matter how you feel about the general cold state of winter- if you slow down to look at an individual snowflake it’s a miraculous little work of art. Today we’re going to use wax paper cut snowflakes to make amazing prints in watercolor- catching all the little details!
What do you need for this snowflake painting….
The supply list here is pretty basic. You’ll need watercolor paints. Basic cake watercolors like this set from Crayola will do just fine. Later in this post I’ll also show you how to do this project using liquid watercolors. These are super vibrant and fun to experiment with if you have them on hand!
Heavier paper, like student grade watercolor paper is helpful because it is sturdy enough to hold up to the wet on wet watercolor panting you’ll be doing. If you don’t have actual watercolor paint you can sub in card stock here. Card stock doesn’t have the same “tooth” that the watercolor paper has but it is heavy enough to hold up to all the paint and water you’ll be adding! (I wouldn’t suggest copy paper for this project- it just won’t hold up!)
Cut paper snowflakes are used to add all the detail in this project. But they’re not cut from regular paper. Nope, we used wax paper to help them resist the watercolor paint a bit. If you don’t have any wax paper handy keep reading I have another material you can up-cycle and use in place of the wax paper!
Cutting paper snowflakes…
Do you guys have memories of cutting dozens of paper snowflakes in a sitting as kids? I have always though the process of unfolding cut paper snowflakes is kind of as magical as the real thing. Every one is different and each one is a bit of a surprise.
Instead of cutting plain paper today you’ll be using wax paper, the same kind as you might grab in the kitchen. Before folding or cutting any intricate shapes I like to start with a circle. Grab a few bowls or lids of different sizes and trace them onto your wax paper. Cut each circle out.
Fold each circle into half, quarters, and finally into eighths before cutting. Use scissors to snip out a variety of shapes from each snowflake before unfolding.
When snowflakes are down lay them under a book or something heavy so they can flatten out while the painting gets started!
Wet on wet watercolors…
There are so many techniques you can do to create totally different effects with the same old tray of watercolor paints. (See this post for nine different watercolor techniques to try with your kids!) The technique of the day today is called wet on wet watercolor painting.
To start take a large, soft brush and paint the entire page with water. Just quickly cover the page. This doesn’t have to be exact. Leave a dry border around the edge to help “contain” the paint and it’s fine if there some dry spaces here and there.
Next drop or paint splotches of color on the wet paper. This is a quick and spontaneous kind of painting- no careful, methodical painters here. This is a splash of color and keep going kind of artwork.
Encourage your kids to watch as the colors move, and spread, and pool together. Because you’re painting on a wet surface there are no hard lines, only mixing and swirling together. Every area doesn’t need to be covered- a few blank spots are fine!
Adding cut paper snowflakes to your painting…
So, at this point you still need to be moving quickly. Grab those paper snowflakes that you stashed under a book earlier. Lay them down in your watercolor painting, gently pressing each section down so that the paint pools around it. This has to happen quickly, before the paint dries.
Don’t be afraid to overlap snowflakes or let a snowflake go off the edge of your paper. This will make for a more interesting composition.
If you run into spots where there just isn’t enough wet paint to allow the wax paper snowflake to stick- don’t worry. Load your brush with water and a some colors and drop it around the edges of your snowflake.
Now for the hard part- walk away. Leave the snowflakes lay until the paint is completely dry- maybe an hour or two! Then you can gently peel away the snowflakes and reveal the designs left behind.
No wax paper- read this….
I mentioned earlier if you didn’t have any wax paper in the pantry I have a solution for you! The snowflake painting above wasn’t created by a wax paper snowflake but actually a plastic bag snowflake! That’s right- we followed the same process of cutting a circle, folding, and snipping shapes out of the folded circle as above, with wax paper. But in the example above we used a plastic “WalMart” type grocery bag in place of the wax paper.
On the positive side I think the cut plastic snowflakes left behind really clear and beautiful impressions. The plastic doesn’t absorb any of the paint so the image is maybe even a little clearer than the wax paper. The negative side of using plastic to create the snowflake shapes is that the plastic is slippery and hard to hold onto to cut. Older students will be able to do this but it will be frustrating to young artists.
Try liquid watercolors…
If you have liquid watercolors handy try them now! Follow the same steps above to get your cut snowflakes ready. When you’re ready to paint, drop diluted watercolor onto the prepared wet surface. Liquid watercolors tend to be super vibrant, which I love.
In the example above I used liquid watercolors and I think you can see a real difference between this example and the others that were done with dry cake watercolors. I love they way the colors look a bit “crystallized” where they pooled between the snowflake cut outs. Both options are beautiful, just different.
More creative snowflake fun…
As a teacher I love focusing in art that celebrates nature and seasons rather than specific holidays. Snowflakes are an endless source of inspiration for me and I’ve got lots of ideas for how to incorporate the beauty of snowflakes into your class or home!
These oil pastel and watercolor resist snowflakes are a fun and easy snowflake idea- I’d love to see this one done on a large scale!
Try creating snowflake inspired Japanese notan cut paper art.
Add an extra layer of interest to a cut paper snowflake by adding watercolor and beginning with a lace doily!
These coffee filter snowflakes can be vibrant or pastel- but either way they’re beautiful!