Mixed Media Sailboats

While learning about the New England states, we completed this fun mixed-media sailboat painting. It combines one of our favorite activities, wet on wet watercolor painting, with recycling easily found papers. I love how playful and whimsical the finished paintings turned out. Enjoy!

11″ x 15″ 140lb watercolor paper (27.9 cm x 38.1cm 300g)
watercolor paints
brown paper bag
paint brushes
glue sticks
painter’s tape
water 🙂
optional – pattern which you can download HERE

Begin by taping your paper to your waterproof work surface. I used 1″ painter’s tape. I lined the tape up with the edge of the paper so it was only tape to the table at the corners. Rub your fingers over the tape to make sure it makes a good bond. You do not want paint seeping under the tape.

We used a wet on wet watercoloring technique. Begin by using a wide brush and getting your whole page wet.

Pick a blue, and water down the color. Using your wide brush, sweep on blue in long horizontal strokes. Make sure the brush is wet enough so the paint bleeds on the paper. Leave some white edges, especially in the top half which will be the sky.

Using an assortment of blues and greens, use wet sweeping horizontal strokes to make the sea. This should be about the bottom half of the paper.

Using an old brown paper bag, cut out 5 boats. These should be in varying sizes. Larger boats will be placed in the front of the painting, with smaller boats will be up closer to the horizon. (Explain the concept of “prospective” to children, and how things that are closer to us appear larger.) Everyone except 7 year old Pixie was able to free form cut boats. She was struggling so I drew boat shapes for her and she cut them out. I’ve included a pattern page which can be found HERE if you’d like some help with shapes 🙂

Next, cut out sails with sizes in proportion to the boats. Again, everyone but Pixie did this free hand, but you may wish to use the pattern.

Match the appropriate boats and sails and paint. Paint. Allow to dry. Try to keep them flat, but it they do roll, you can straighten them out when you glue them to the paper.

Position the boats and sails on your watercolored seascape.

Feel free to trim any boats or sails to get them to fit or for proper sizing. When ready, glue them to the watercolor paper using a glue stick.

Using a thin brush at detail to the painting including masts and birds with black and waves with blue.  Point out that the larger birds are closer.

Remove tape and hang you paintings!

We invite you to add photos of your kids’ completed Mixed-Media Sailboat Paintings to our Wee Folk Art Kids :: Arts & Crafts Flickr group.



Photos: 2-24-14, 2-25-14



Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art


  1. What a wonderful and fun project ~ thank you for sharing this! Everyone’s art is just beautiful!

  2. What a fun project. I can’t pick a favoriteu2026they are all so beautiful and creative!

  3. Love this! We will probably wait a couple of months to do it, I’ll wait for the snow to go away, but definitely bookmarking this for later. They are beautiful. I especially like having several of them together. It’s fun to notice differences.

    1. I love seeing the differences too. Actually I was thinking it might be fun to do a "Stormy Seas" one with gray skies. Instead of painting birds in the sky you could use white crayon before painting to make lightening. I will have to give it a go the next time we pull out the paints.

  4. This looks like so much fun. I was wondering what kind of watercolors you use?

  5. My 10 year old son is completing fourth grade in Catholic school where he studied the regions of the United States this year and memorized states and capitals. I am going to do this states curriculum with him this summer to reinforce what he learned and keep his brain “fresh”. Thank you so much for posting these curriculum ideas.

    1. You are very welcome. Have fun!

  6. I love this project!  I am always looking for crafts to do with my son, and I am working on being a more prepared, equipped Mama to do this with him.  He is 8, so I have a few more years of these kinds of things….but…I wonder if you have access to, or can also provide information on arts for older kids?  I don’t want our artistic endeavors to end as he gets older.  Thank you for the beautiful inspiration, always!


    1. I have found that as my son has gotten older he prefers to focus on drawing things that look real which takes practice and more specific instruction. So now, his artistic endeavors now are mostly drawing lessons. I’ve read studies on how children, especially boys, tend to give up art around the age of 10-11 because as they are learning to reason, they want to draw realistically and most art classes tend to focus on creative expression (or crafts) without really teaching the nitty gritty of perspective, foreshortening, etc. Unlike what many people think, art is not just a natural ability but something that can be taught with lessons and practice… similar to learning to play the piano. I’ve enjoyed books like Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and a bunch of the How To Draw type books for him. We have also done well with Mark Kistler’s videos and have found a bunch of great lesson for free on Youtube.

  7. Hello- Do you have an idea when the states curriculum will be available in PDF. I am very interested in this unit but it appears that it is missing certain parts. I was thinking that might be due to current edits or work on the curriculum. Thank you!

    1. Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art

      I looks like some of the links are missing off the overview page… I’m not sure why. Crazy computers. I will work on getting the overview page back in order this weekend.

      We still have Puddles & Ponds and our Advent Activities to finish for our Simple Seasons curriculum, but after that I will be turning my attention to getting the State units done in the new format. There are a few journal pages missing from the second unit but other than that, it is complete and ready for use online.

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