Too wet to go out? Create rainy day Watercolor and Salt Rain Art using drippy watercolor paint, and an extra salty surprise to emulate rain’s texture. Inspired by one of our favorite rain-theme books, Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse.
Sometimes a children’s book sings “inspiration” to me, and that’s how I feel every time I read Come On, Rain!. I found it a few years ago in a thrift shop, and the imagery–both visual and verbal–has made it one of my favorite gems to read to the kids, especially during the rainy season.
I grew up in wet Washington state, where it rains more than not and in the heavily wooded area where my parents built their home–the earth stays chilly and damp most of the year. So rain is familiar to me. But we moved to Kentucky several years ago and it was then I learned the pleasure of a deep, rumbles-your-bones thunderstorm in the drooping, humid-sticky southern summer.
Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse effortlessly describes this thirst-quenching summer refreshment in the story of Tess who pleads to the sky for a relief from the heat.
When the dark clouds finally roll in and showers begin, Tess and her friends dance in their bathing suits with their bare-footed mamas in celebration of the renewing storm.
Karen Hesse paints such a beautiful picture with her words, I can imagine the pressure Jon J. Muth might have felt as he stroked the scenes to compliment and complete the story! But his soft watercolors do just that.
As we read the book this last time we paid extra attention to the painted illustrations. A few things we noted:
- the limited color palette (What colors come to your mind when thinking about a rain storm?)
- the way the soft watercolor creates texture on the page to represent the hot haze- and cloud bursting- skies
- the feelings we have about rain when looking at the illustrations
And then after reading and discussing (since I love projects inspired by books!), we created some of our own rainy day watercolor paintings using drippy liquid watercolor paint, and an extra salty surprise to emulate rain’s texture.
Supplies for Watercolor and Salt Rain Art:
- watercolor paper
- watercolor paint*
- table salt
*Any watercolor paint will work, but we prefer liquid over the traditional cake-style watercolor paint sets because it’s easier to control the vibrancy of the colors.
To create our watercolor and salt rain paintings we chose just a few liquid paint colors–specifically those we saw represented in Come On, Rain! and that reminded us of the colors of a rainstorm. I knew the paint would mix and be drippy in this project and choosing too many colors would create mud instead of rainstorms!
After selecting our colors, I only gave the kids the instructions to “paint a rainstorm.” I wanted this to be more of an experimental process-based project, with no specific outcome and using the book’s illustrations as inspiration. We painted with brushes, tipped the papers to encourage paint drips, and flicked wet paint onto the paper with a gentle tap of the brush.
Then while the paint was still wet, we sprinkled with salt. Just cheap table salt will do. The salt absorbs and reacts with the wet watercolor to create pattern and texture. Then once paint is dry, you can rub the salt off your rain art, if desired.
It’s a rainy day project worth celebrating!
Check out more rain-themed projects: