Kids Art: Watercolor Winter Trees

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kids winter activity salt relief painting
Sutton and I discovered a fantastic blog the other day, Art Projects for Kids, and he was especially intrigued by their winter birch trees paintings. We decided to try it out for ourselves this morning, and though our results aren’t quite as pretty as the inspiration they were still really fun to make. Sutton was especially keen on getting to use salt in a painting project since we’ve never really done that before.
taping off winter trees on paper
First, tape down your paper around the edges. Use torn strips of tape to create the silhouettes of tree trunks and branches. Our trees were a little less birch-like and a little more free form. We used blue painters tape and watercolor paper as suggested, but I found that the tape really stuck to the paper, so that might not actually be the best combination.
child painting taped off winter tree craft project
Use dark blue watercolor to paint over the entire sheet of paper.
using salt to make snowflakes on paper
While the paint is still wet, shake on some big pieces of kosher salt. We also used a few shakes of regular table salt because someone was having way too much fun with all that salt shaking. I’m not sure what happened, but instead of turning white and absorbing the watercolor, the salted spots on our painting turned bright pink…which was also cool, but not exactly what we were originally going for.
revealed winter trees in salt painting
Peel off the tape and shake off all the salt. Go back with your watercolor paint and add some lines to your trees for detail and definition. You can also shade and shadow your trees, but since our tape let a lot of paint leak underneath we didn’t really need to. You can also add white details to the snow/stars (aka the salty spots).
I’d like to try this again using contact paper instead of blue tape. I think it might also be nicer with watered down tempera paint and bristol instead of the watercolor paper. We had much more success using those materials when we created “S” initial artwork last year. Still lots of fun, however, and the kids always love the “big reveal” when you finally pull off the masking and unveil their masterpiece!

signature from Heidi, at Happiness is Homemade


  1. You have really great projects, thank you! I also appreciate you sharing the ups and downs of each project. What combination of tape and paper ended up worked best?
    I am thinking of doing this same project but making clouds in the sky. very inspiring.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly! We’ve done this project (in different variations) a few times now, and I’ve had the best results with classic tan masking tape on smooth bristol board. The tan tape seems to resist the paint the best without tearing up the paper when you peel it off in the end. 🙂

  2. Loved this post and the finished masterpiece. I am going to use this idea for my adult art group as I know they’ll enjoy it. Thank you.

  3. This just saved me! I’m teaching seasonal landscape class right now and needed an idea for winter. Amazing idea! Thank you, I’m so excited to try it.

  4. This turned out great! I think it’s helpful when you share your failures and successes…we learn and our result evolves 🙂

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