Doodlebug Club: Stargazing Watercolors & Textured Moon Paintings

It’s been too long since I posted anything about Doodlebug Club!  This little preschool art class I teach has been going wide-open all summer, exploring all different kinds of art and producing some fantastic stuff that would make any refrigerator proud!   In the past month, as school started, I had to say goodbye to several of kids who were transitioning to kindergarten or a half-day preschool program. Working with the ones that are now progressing to school, which they are so excited about, has been, no contest, the best part of my job at the museum where I work.

As a few kids have moved on, several new ones have joined our class. We’ve done all sorts of things lately, from working with liquid watercolors to adding flour to give the paint we mixed ourselves an interesting texture, to making giant stuffed apples whose sides we laced ourselves. I wanted to share three of the most recent projects – ones that *A* and I will definitely be doing with our Littlest Brooks-Livingston someday.

Liquid watercolors are really fun to paint with, and a few classes ago, we used them to make stargazing paintings. We started class by talking about how beautiful the night sky is in the summertime, full of zillions of stars on a clear night.  We talked about how stars make invisible connect-the-star pictures (constellations) and about what stars are made of and how far away they are.  For our artwork, we stuck those old-school reward chart star stickers in interesting patterns all over a sheet of thick watercolor paper.  Each artist had been given a paint palette with several night-sky colors of liquid watercolors.

There are several cool things about this project that makes it perfect for preschoolers: first, there’s no need to clean the paintbrush between colors of paint, since it all sort of blends together anyway; second, convincing them to cover the whole page is pretty easy, as the paint is liquidy and bleeds; third, the paints bleed into each other, so colors blend and make new colors,  and when puddles form, you can flip the sheet over, (gently) smack it paint-side down on the paper covering the table to get rid of the excess, then flip it back over to check out the even cooler design that came from that particular artistic move.

After the whole paper was painted, we set it aside to dry (which took a while).  The next day,  I peeled off the star stickers to reveal the white star shape underneath. Here are some of the results:

stargazing watercolors 1

Note the hand prints on this one (above) – this little dude managed this from a particularly firm whack down on the table on the back of the painting to get the extra paint off.   It’s always good to explain the amount of vigor necessary for such a task…

stargazing watercolors 2


stargazing watercolors 4

stargazing watercolors3

This one, I was told,  is “during the Aurora Borealis, when they sky gets all glowy, but that doesn’t happen here.”

You probably wouldn’t believe that one of those paintings was done by a two year old, would you?  I won’t tell you which one, but yep.  This project is just that cool.

Continuing our night-sky art theme, we did two moon-themed projects last week.  In planning this project, I knew I would need some large pieces of cardboard so that I could cut out a full moon shape (or as normal people call it, a circle).  Lightbulb moment: pizza boxes.  Sure enough, Pizza Hut was glad to help me out and gave me enough pizza boxes for this project (once large circle per top, one per bottom, so two total per box).  Even though these pizza boxes seemed to me to be the same thickness/texture as normal cardboard, they were surprisingly easy to cut with a rotary cutter.  Good thing to file away.

Full moons pre-cut for the Doodlebugs, the first thing they did was trace them with a white crayon on a large black card stock (maybe 18″ x 24″).  They set the cardboard moon aside for the next project and each artist mixed their own grey paint.  We mixed white and black washable paint to get their preferred color of grey, then added some flour to create texture.  Using large paintbrushes, they scooped paint onto the inside of their circle.  They all did a pretty good job of keeping the round shape – I was surprised.  After they had covered their whole moon outline quite thickly, they used round shapes to make craters.  I had pre-cut a paper towel cardboard roll into two-inch rounds, and they also used wine corks (didn’t work too well) and caps from glue sticks.  Those had to dry overnight, and as they dried, the flour-y paint dried and cracked in interesting patterns.

Textured Moon 1


Textured Moon 2


Textured Moon 3


The other moon project was the real reason behind those cardboard pizza box moons.  Placing the cardboard moon on the table, we then used rounds cut from a cardboard roll, or bottle caps (turn the sharp sides down) to make a 3-d moon surface (craters and mountains and such).  We used tape to secure those in place.  Next, we covered the moon’s surface with a giant aluminum foil square (each Doodlebug crinkled it a bit before covering their moon).  Use the extra-wide roll of aluminum foil for this, it’s a big moon.  They needed a bit of help with smoothing the foil over the surface without poking holes in it, and with wrapping the excess foil around the edges.

The last step was to paint their moon using more grey paint (this time without flour, since we already had texture with the foil).  And  then add glitter.  Because what moon is complete without a few energetic sprinkles of glitter?

They turned out super-cool:

Foil Moon 1

Foil Moon 2

A couple of close-ups of the texture of these fantastic glittery foil moons:

Foil Moon Texture 2

Foil Moon Texture 3

Just add a lunar rover, a little dude in a white space suit, and an American flag and you’ve got a pretty convincing preschooler-made moon!

I’ve been told by all of the Doodlebug parents whose kid made one of these that they are all very proud of them, and each of them demanded their moon be hung up in his or her room as soon as they got home.  It’s great to see them so proud of their art.  I’m proud of them, too.  They turned out really well – and these were some fun and different art projects – and pretty easy, too.

Three more to add to my growing file of art projects and Dad-tivities.  Can’t wait to try them with our Littlest some day!

What’s this blog all about?
Welcome to The Littlest Brooks-Livingston!   We’re happy you’re here!  We began this blog in January 2013 to document our adoption story.  Check out this page to find out more about the two of us – *E* and *A* and to read more about our hopes of adopting a baby through open adoption.

doodlebugWhat is Doodlebug Club?
In short, Doodlebug Club is great practice for being a dad! I work at an art and history museum, and one of the best parts of my job is working with kids.    I teach a weekly preschool art class called Doodlebug Club, where I get to try out all sorts of ideas that will become some of the fun things that we will do with our Littlest Brooks-Livingston.  I’ve never had any real art training, but I think it’s a lot of fun, and to me, it’s very important to make art more approachable than it ever seemed when I was a kid.If you’d like to read about more of the projects we’ve done in Doodlebug Club, click here.  Check out my Doodlebug Club Pinterest board here.


2 thoughts on “Doodlebug Club: Stargazing Watercolors & Textured Moon Paintings

    • This coming from someone who painted a racing car tire to turn it into a ladybug – and then added googly eyes and wire antennae to complete the look. You both create all sorts of stuff – never seen two people with more drive to do-it-yourself. 🙂


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