Watercolor Fish with Pointillism

Last weekend’s teacher work­shop at Palace Art was a huge suc­cess! It’s encour­ag­ing to know that so many teach­ers are eager to expand their art skills so they can share the ben­e­fits of Art with their stu­dents! For this work­shop we focused on water­color, so I thought I would share a few of the amaz­ing paint­ings these teachers-turned-students pro­duced. (Scroll down for the les­son plan if you’d like to try this project your­self!)

Fish Painting with Pointillism


  • 9x12 white construction paper
  • Black chisel tip marker
  • Prang OVL-8 Water­col­ors & brush
  • Q-tips (at least 7 per stu­dent)
  • Con­tain­ers for water
  • Pho­tos or line draw­ings of var­i­ous types of fish for visual reference
  • Exam­ples of the paint­ings of artist Georges Seu­rat (You can find these in many art books as well as online.)

1. Explain what “Pointil­lism” is and talk about the work of Georges Seu­rat. Show exam­ples of his paint­ings. Pro­vide sev­eral visual ref­er­ences of inter­est­ing fish shapes for stu­dents to draw.
2. Lightly sketch the out­line of a fish, fill­ing most of your paper. Include shapes within the fish to paint with dif­fere
nt col­ors. Add a few other ele­ments to illus­trate the fish’s habi­tat, such as kelp, rocks, shells, etc. Keep in mind that your shapes need to be large enough to be painted with a Q-tip!
3. Trace over your pen­cil lines with a black, chisel tip marker to cre­ate a bold “col­or­ing book” style drawin
4. Add a dro
p of water to each of the col­ors in your paint set to moisten them (you will not be using the black).
Dip each of your 7 Q-tips in water and lay them along the lid of your paint set, each one rest­ing in it’s own color (see photo at left).
6. Now fill in each sec­tion of your draw­ing with dots of color by dip­ping your Q-tip in the paint and then press­ing it onto your paper. Cover each area with a “light sprin­kling” of dots at first. Then go back and fill in with more dots as needed. You can “mix” col­ors by com­bin­ing dots of dif­fer­ent col­ors within the same sec­tion. Try to let the first color dry before adding the next color, to keep your Q-tips clean!

Encour­age students to take their time and work care­fully, plac­ing one dot of color on their paper at a time. You don’t have to dip the Q-tip in the paint for every dot. Mak­ing sev­eral “dots per dip” will yield a lighter, more trans­par­ent color. This project usu­ally takes one ses­sion for draw­ing and one ses­sion for paint­ing, but my “teacher-students” got through it in half the time!

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3 Responses to Watercolor Fish with Pointillism

  1. Cindy Lee Jones October 5, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    Great great project! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Char January 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    I recently fin­ished this project with my 5th graders and they were amaz­ing!!! I loved that I didn’t even have to use water­color paper. It did take way longer than 2 class period, but was well worth the effort. Thanks for a fab­u­lous blog with won­der­ful projects!

  3. Anonymous February 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    it was bril­liant!
    pointil­lism was my class’ favourite type of art, they even wanted to do it again after we fin­si­hed!
    They all looked so pretty!

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