Category Archives: The Joy Of Making Watercolors

The Joy Of Making Watercolors

The Joy Of Making Watercolors

I think everyone has had the opportunity to paint with watercolors. This is mostly because painting with watercolors has become a regular activity in schools. Watercolors may be difficult to master but unlike oils or acrylics, they are essentially child-friendly. This is because they are so easy-to-use and their water base is non-toxic. This is why most preschools and kindergartens usually use them in parts of their curriculum. Who hasn’t seen or experienced finger painting? Watercolors are an excellent medium for any budding artist to start in. This is why they’re also making them is an excellent activity to share with them.


The idea of making paints maybe daunting, but it should be noted that most artists before the twentieth century mixed their own paints. It’s just most people have forgotten the art of mixing paints because we often see art materials packed and ready-to-use. The act of creating your own paints is actually pretty easy Ð even more so where watercolors are concerned. Another plus is that we’re making the children’s version Ð mixing a batch of watercolors for professional use is much more involved process.


First, you’ll have to get together some basic ingredients. You’ll need the following:

• 3 tbsp baking soda

• 3 tbsp cornstarch

• 3 tbsp white vinegar

• 1 1/2 tsp light corn syrup

• food coloring

Note that the measurements can be doubled or tripled depending on how many people will be using the watercolor. This should be enough for a small group of four, but for larger groups add a bit more.

By the way, the corn syrup is the binder, the substance that will keep your pigments together, for your watercolor so its pretty important. You might not be able to come up with corn syrup; the easy substitute is to make your own glucose syrup. Sounds difficult but Òglucose syrup is just a fancy name for a sugar solution. To make it, just boil two cups of sugar in a cup of water. Mix it well until you have a clear solution. Now that you have your binder, it’s time to start.

First of all, mix the vinegar and baking soda together in a small bowl. It will start to foam, but that’s a natural reaction so you just keep mixing. When the foaming has died down, it’s time to add the cornstarch and your syrup, whether it be corn or glucose, to the mix. Keep on mixing until  you get a smooth consistency to the mix. This will be your base.

Now that you’re got your base, it’s time to create your color sets. Get several bottle caps or small containers of similar size and pour in the base. After you’ve used up all the clear base, you just add food coloring to them. Be generous with your application Ð the color needs to spread well so this means you also have to stir a bit. When you’re done, there’s only one step left; put the caps in a cool dry place so that they can dry. By morning, you’ll have a dry set of watercolors ready for use!