Book-Inspired Art Project: Watercolor Moon

by Rebecca J. Gomez

Do you have a favorite picture book about the moon? There are a lot of good ones, such as Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes; Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline; and Snowball Moon by Fran Cannon Slayton, illustrated by Tracy Bishop. But one of my favorite moon books is If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Jaime Kim. Below is a review I wrote for the book when it originally published:

In this informational picture book, a sleepy little girl says to the moon, "I wish I could do exactly nothing, just like you." But the moon answers back, explaining to the little girl--and the reader--that what looks like nothing is actually quite something! With simple phrases and imagery that young ones will be sure to understand, If You Were the Moon explains the mystery of the moon and the role it plays in its place in the sky. Factual blurbs throughout the book explain the science behind each wonder described on the page, and a short glossary at the back defines several possibly unfamiliar terms.

The accompanying illustrations make the meaning on each spread clear. They are dark like the night sky, with a quiet, restful feel that makes this book a good choice for bedtime. I especially like the spread about nocturnal animals because of the warm colors and stark contrasts, which make for a stunning visual.

I read this book again recently, as part of my preparation for the Summer Challenge's "Night Time" week, and decided to create a simple art project inspired by the book's cover. This watercolor moon art is the perfect follow-up activity to reading and discussing any book about the moon!

This project uses ordinary water color paints and salt. The salt is sprinkled onto the wet paint so that, when it's dry, it has a unique texture. Read on to see how to make a watercolor moon of your own. 

You will need:

  • Watercolor paper or mixed media art paper
  • Two sheets of black card stock or construction paper (Note: Use any paper you have on hand, though the recommended paper will accept the water/paint better, with limited warping.)
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paint brush
  • Cup of water
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Table salt
  • Pencil
  • Circle template (I used a large peanut butter lid)
  • White crayon (optional)

Directions:

  1. Gather all your supplies.
  2. Using a circle template, draw your moon on the watercolor paper.
  3. "Paint" the entire circle with plain water. Make sure it is plenty wet!
  4. Use a very wet paintbrush to dip into one color of paint, then quickly drop a few drops of watercolor paint onto your moon. The drops should begin to spread into the wet paper. If you like, you can spread the paint a bit with your brush. Be sure to leave some white space. Repeat with a second color if you want. 
  5. Generously sprinkle table salt all over your painted moon, using a little extra on the wettest spots. Then allow the moon to dry completely on a flat surface. Be patient, it could take a while. (Tip: To hurry up the drying process, you can use a cool hair dryer set on low.)
  6. Once the moon is COMPLETELY dry, brush off the salt. The paper may feel a little rough, and that's okay!
  7. Cut the moon out and admire its beauty!
  8. Take one sheet of black paper and cut a tree branch shape or two.
  9. Glue the moon onto the other sheet of black paper. Then, glue the tree branch in place over the moon. If you like, use a white crayon to create stars in the night sky.




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