Feathers and Nests: An Observational Art Provocation

An Everyday Story

An Everyday StorySarah (3.5yrs) collects feathers. All feathers. She is getting quite the collection. They fill tiny nests in our playroom and line her shelves in her bedroom.

Today’s afternoon art was inspired by Sarah’s love affair with feathers. It’s nice to do something for her. Too often I feel our days are so focussed around Jack. It’s nice to see Sarah developing her own interests and watching her explore them more deeply.

An Everyday Story An Everyday Story An Everyday StoryA few of Sarah’s treasures, some watercolours, clipboards, brushes, water and the provocation was set. I like using a Lazy Susan for observational art; it allows the kids to gently spin the materials so they can see them in more detail.

And doesn’t the colour and lines in the wood just lift the materials so beautifully? I also used clear glass jars to hold some of the feathers to emphasise their beauty and allow the light to shine through.

An Everyday Story An Everyday Story An Everyday Story An Everyday Story An Everyday Story An Everyday StoryWe use watercolour paper. Watercolour paper is heavier than regular copy paper. It allows the colour to absorb more easily; holding the paint and stopping the colours from blending into a brown muck.

It’s not expensive. I just buy the K-mart brand. But it definitely makes for a more enjoyable art experience. We also use Micador watercolour paints and can’t recommend them enough. You can buy them online or K-mart, Big W and Officeworks stock them.


Sarah had a lovely little friend come and play today while her mama was at work. The two girls painted and chatted happily; admiring each other’s work, talking about which colours they should choose and giving little tips… it was a most lovely day.


4 Replies to “Feathers and Nests: An Observational Art Provocation”

  1. I always felt this way with my second too — her older brother’s activities and interests seem to dictate what we did when she was younger. It was so nice to see her develop her own interests as she grew older (and no longer wanted to always follow big brother around 😉 And watercolors are so much fun with kids of all ages – lovely!

  2. how do you get them not to mix all the colors into the brown muck? My 3,8 daughter likes dipping brushes (or fingers) into all of the colors (without rinsing to get a new color) and even when she does rinses before taking next color – she just mixes everything on the paper into the brown mess – even when I demonstrate how colours look beautifully on paper by themselves or only 2-3 mixed she is still very contently makes mud, then prowdly demonstrates it to me. The other day I tried another approach that I though will teach her to admire the color – I showed her how to paint wet on wet (fingers and paintbrushes), just dropping paint and drawing lines on pre-wet paper to see how paint dissolves and mixes by itself – but she did the same thing and ended up elbow-deep in dirt, just sloshing it about the paper. It really kills me, as I am an artist and it pains me to see this happening every time, and I tried every possible approach. Any advise?

  3. I must tell you that your posts are a delight! I am a momma to 4 & know how busy raising kiddos is! But your posts make me stop & ponder how to support their individuality, their passions & everyday beauty. Thank you for the time you take to share with us all.

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