we help adults teach art to kids

Watercolor Fish Art Project

This watercolor fish art project takes a while (about four-45 minute classes) but it is worth it. It’s also worth having watercolor paper, no matter how inexpensive, as this project is a wonderful opportunity to experiment with watercolor paints. Regular paper really doesn’t do the drawings justice. Believe me, I’ve tried!

I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of liquid watercolors but a combination of liquid and regular pan w/c paints is ideal here. You can paint the background first with liquid watercolors, avoiding the rocks and sea life, then use pan watercolors to add details and color interest.

The children did such an amazing job with their drawings, it’s worth taking the time to paint well. The hard part is waiting for a section to dry before advancing to the next, thus avoiding the dreaded “bleed”. Mind you, blending or bleeding can be quite effective, but not everywhere. I had a few kids who tired of careful (AKA slow) painting, but in the end, they loved their wild expressionistic fish and so did I!

I have detailed instructions as well as drawing aids in my “Watercolor Projects” PDF Lesson Plan.


  1. Dear Patty,

    These are absolutely beautiful. I haven’t used watercolour paper yet. I tend to use the standard paper because watercolour paper is expensive. Now I’m thinking what the heck … it’s worth it. Beautiful artwork…congratulations….

    Anna Pietrolungo
    Essendon North Primary School
    Melbourne, Australia

    Anna Pietrolunog

    November 18, 2010

  2. Hi Patty,
    I love your fish project. I tried my own version of it here in Hong Kong on the little island where we live and where I run an after school art class. I took my groups to the fish restaurants in the village where we live and we first drew the fish in the tanks as our observation lesson. Next we prepared the background paper using some cheaper watercolour paper and the following week did the fish and cut them out and stuck them to the background using contrasting colours. Check them out on my very basic blog…. http://www.rozkeep.blogspot.com

    Roz Keep

    January 4, 2011

  3. In your first paragraph at the top of this page, I think you meant to say, “no matter how expensive”. Love your website. I’m using some of your ideas to teach my three kids art at home. We home school and have fun decorating our home with their artwork. Thanks for all the great ideas!


    May 28, 2011

    • I agree, my writing needs some editing! But I really did mean to say inexpensive. There are so many different qualities of watercolor paper that you can buy, and I buy the cheapest. And even though the “tooth” isn’t great, it’s still worth it the purchase.


      May 28, 2011

  4. What do you mean by “regular” paper? I’ve only ever used watercolor paper…is there a cheaper alternative for different projects?


    October 25, 2012

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