Watercolor painting offers a rainbow of possibilities

Have you noticed pictures of rainbows popping up in windows around your neighborhood? Since the spring, thousands of handmade paintings and drawings have been spotted across the globe. During the COVID‑19 pandemic, young artists have displayed their rainbows along with hopeful messages to show unity and hope, and to offer gratitude to the emergency workers and others on the front lines.

Want to create your own rainbow to help contribute to the uplifting global movement? In this video tutorial, Sylva, an instructor at Pratt Fine Arts Center, a community arts center in Seattle that works with Amazon, will teach you how to paint a beautiful watercolor rainbow that you can personalize however you’d like.

Once you’ve gathered your art supplies, tape down your paper to hold it in place and to create a nice, clean border around your painting. Next, lightly trace a circle. Then paint a water line, followed by adding some pigment. Continue this pattern of water line and pigment until you’ve painted all the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

Once you’ve finished your rainbow, you can add details all around it; Sylva shows off a clever technique to paint clouds, using just a little black paint, that you might want to try for yourself. Next, decide what you’d like to add to the center of your circular rainbow—it could be a flower you love, a self-portrait, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Last but not least, add a few finishing touches such as raindrops or even meaningful words such as "love" or "unity" using the dry-brush technique Sylva demonstrates.

Give your painting plenty of time to dry before carefully removing your tape to reveal your very own watercolor masterpiece! Whether you hang your rainbow in a window of your home or on your family’s refrigerator, it’s sure to bring a smile to anyone who sees it.

What you’ll need:

  • Pencil
  • Watercolor paper (Canson XL, 11"x15" or 9"x12"; other brands will work, but 140lb cold press watercolor paper is ideal)
  • Masking tape (artist tape or painter’s tape work best)
  • Watercolor paints (Sylva uses a Talens Angora Watercolor Pan Set, but any dry watercolor pan set is fine)
  • Watercolor paintbrushes (one medium-sized round or flat brush; one smaller round or flat brush)
  • Paper towels for blotting
  • Cup of water for cleaning your brushes

Virtual Kids Week activities are intended for children with involvement from a parent or guardian.