Watercolor Jellyfish Art Project

Watercolor Jellyfish Art Project

This drippy technique is and absolute WINNER for kid’s engagement. It requires two things that are an absolute MUST : Liquid watercolors and watercolor paper.
It’s is a super fast and fun lesson that involves drippy watercolors, a bit of paper tapping and mess. Mistakes are encouraged and enthusiasm expected!

All You’ll Need Is:

– Watercolor Paper

– Liquid watercolors

– Chalk pastels or Gel Sticks

The instructions are about as simple as you can get…

Paint 2-3 sections of jellyfish shapes paper with just water.
Drop in liquid watercolors while the paper is still wet. Feel free to use more than one color of paint in the jellyfish body…choose colors that blend well together so you don’t end up with mucky colors.

Now the fun part. Pick up the paper and tap onto a hard surface so the paint streaks downward.

Add extra tentacles with a small brush and more watercolor paint.

Use a paint spritzer or brush dipped in colors to splatter over artwork. Then, outline the jellyfish with color pastels or gel sticks to create more form, color or contrast.

How to paint a jellyfish video!

A little history…

I was considering replacing this old version video of the jellyfish technique with the new Instagram “Reel” that is shown above, but I reconsidered.

This was the very FIRST video I ever made. And it’s the first video I posted on my blog and YouTube. I took the video with an instant camera, long before there were cell phone cameras with video options. I kid you not.

After watching it a few times, I couldn’t help but noticed how s-l-o-w the pace was. New videos just don’t have that luxury. At least on social.
Anyway…keep your old stuff because they represent the timeline you created with your work….good and not-so-good!

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  • Christie

    So here I am, almost Spring, pouring rain, leaking windows and I clicked onto your Jelly Fish video. Simple directions, restful music, great lesson (I just have to buy a couple more colors of liquid watercolor for the kiddos), enthusiastic artists — your video TOTALLY changed my mood — THANKS, again!!

    • Yesenia

      Maravilloso, hermoso …muchas gracias por compartir esta bendición y talento.

  • Kathy

    What an expressive video once again! Loved the music as well as the chance to see the painting in action.

  • Robin

    Hi Patty, I loved your video.
    Are you using a flip camera to film your kids? How wonderful to see them working and the music is so fun, especially the bubbles in the beginning.
    I noticed you are using plastic handled brushes. I made the mistake of buying wood handled paint brushes and they are peeling so badly there are flakes of blue everywhere. I wish now I would have paid a little more and bought plastic handled ones. I use clear plastic tumbler cups for water cups (grocery store) because they are squatty and wider at the top and don’t seem to tip over as easily. I just reuse them. Do you use margarine tubs or tupperware bowls for your water cups and also do you have students share the water cups or one per person?
    Thanks again for everything you post, it is all so helpful.

    • Patty

      I use a regular cameron (Sony Cybershot) that has a movie option. Just discovered the movie button actually! As for the water, I set out 2 tubs per table (4-6 kids share). There is really no need for every kid to have their own supplies. Sharing is easy. I use any container that has a big, flat bottom for water. Bowls tend to flip. Thanks for your comments!

    • Anoush

      Robin, I use recycled large yogurt containers (32 oz size) for water cups that are donated, and then I only fill them halfway–they’re the perfect size, and extremely sturdy, and free!

      I also make 4 kids share their water, but I let them change it when they need to (I just have a “half full of cold water” rule).

      • Robin

        Thanks Anoush, your and Patty’s suggestion of sharing water tubs sounds much simpler than filling 35 cups and refilling between classes. One of my biggest time sponges!
        I found some low tubs at the Dollar store and am going to experiment next painting class.
        Your rainy landscape picture sound wonderful, is there a way to see an example? What did you mean by two brushes? So did you paint the clouds and then tip the paper like Patty did and the paint dripped from the clouds like rain?

        • Anoush

          I’m having camera/computer issues right now so I don’t have photos, but I had them hold and dip two fat camelhair brushes in the water at one time to increase the amount of watery paint that was loaded onto the paper for the clouds (since I used cake tempera, not liquid watercolors, we needed to get more water in the mix!). I had them dab clouds, then make little “fingers” or “teeth” at the bottom to give each drip somewhere to start. Then they tipped and tapped just as in Patty’s video, only instead of jellyfish they made rainclouds! I also did the rainy day painting today with some other second graders, and we only had 35 min. so we did sketchy marker landscapes and painted clouds over them (instead of pastels). I hope that helps!

  • Anoush

    I am so glad you shared this! It’s been rainy here all week, and the kids have been going stir crazy from inside recess (among other things). I did the jellyfish with my third graders (they LOVED it!) in one 35 min. class period (sans chalk), with my kinders as a reward in about 20 minutes (sans chalk or splatter), and I used the concept to do a rainy day landscape with my second graders in one 55 min. class period.

    For the rainy day landscape, we used chalk pastels to lightly draw a landscape on grey paper and rubbed it in to create a soft misty effect. Then rainclouds pouring rain all across the top! It was quite successful, and very appropriate! (I used cake tempera with lots of water in it for all of these, as I don’t have liquid watercolors at the moment. I let my second graders use two brushes at once to compensate…)

  • meg

    AWESOME!!!! i loved the video!

  • Julie Leatherwood

    I love the watercolor jellyfish!

    I have not seen the video yet as our school system blocks Youtube. I found a great jellyfish video on teacher tube and posted the link in the above website space.

    Would you be able to post your jellyfish video on teacher tube also?

    • Patty

      TeacherTube sounds great. I need to get on it!

      • Patty

        Just tried to download my videos on teacherTube but no luck. Wouldn’t accept my format. I don’t know if it’s worth trying to figure out.

    • Katy

      Do you recommend any particular brand of liquid watercolors?

      • Patty

        Yes! I LOVE Colorations and Sargent. Those two are the ones I’m currently using 🙂

  • Danielle Campbell

    I have just completed this activity with my Year 5 students. It was fantastic for getting them to ‘loosen up’ and to just have fun…
    thankyou 🙂

  • candice

    I absolutely love this jellyfish water color tutorial! These are beautiful!


  • Cindy Friday

    Quickie Question: Do the kids add the chalk pastels while the paint is still wet? I guess I need to try it on watercolor paper to see what happens. Beautiful results!

    • Patty Palmer

      Dry watercolor is best, but it tends to dry fast on watercolor paper.

  • Cathy

    I used this in a Kids Club with kids who have disabilities, they LOVED it! Thanks so much I really love your ideas I can always find some inspiration I need on your site. Appreciate you!

  • Sandra Haisha Larson

    Hi Patty, The link is not working to download the cheat sheet. Thank you 😉

    • Bethany

      Hi Sandra! This is Bethany from Team Sparkle. I just checked all the links and everything is working on our end. If you click and add your name and email to the box we will send you the PDF directly to your inbox. Enjoy!

  • Misty Rude

    Your blog has been a life saver for me, Patti. I’m a high school Theatre teacher in a small school in rural Alaska. As such, I’m also tasked with teaching Art to Kinders through 8th Grade. I have a teeny tiny budget, and everything I get goes toward purchasing materials. Your blog and the free resources you offer have saved my sanity! Thank you!!

    • Bethany

      ❤️ Thank you from Team Sparkle!

  • Cynthia Remski

    Love this project! Can’t wait to do this with my students 🙂 Thank you!!

  • Florence Decurgez

    I did this great project during my summer school session. Students enjoyed it very much and I got excellent results. Thanks Patty!

  • mark

    What brand of liquid watercolor do you use?

    • Patty

      We love using both Sargent and Colorations Liquid watercolors.

  • Rosemarie

    I love the different techniques used to make the jellyfish. There is a problem downloading the watercolor techniques for kids. Is it still available?

    Thanks for sharing this lesson and so many others.

    • Bethany

      Hi Rosemarie! You’re right! I alerted tech support and they’ll fix it shortly. Sorry for the trouble!

  • Margaret

    Love it!!

  • lisa

    what visual arts standards did you use for this project?

    • Bethany

      Hi Lisa! Great question. The free lessons on the Deep Space Sparkle website do not come with standards attached like the lessons in The Sparklers’ Club. All lessons in The Sparklers’ Club are aligned with the NCAS standards and we have all the matching done for you! The corresponding NCAS standards (and Common Core connections) are listed in each lesson plan for the appropriate grade level. If you are interested in lessons with standards already aligned to them, be sure to join the waitlist for The Sparklers’ Club! Our next enrollment will be in August 2023.

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