Kids Art: Watercolor Cactus

I created this art project for my Kindergarteners.  I do this one every year for their Father’s Day art.

Materials: Watercolor paper, pencil, eraser, watercolor paint, paint brush, water, fine-tip Sharpie

Preface: Before you begin, know that with every project I taught my students I’d use a dry erase board as an instructional device to actually show the kids (by drawing it myself, on the board) each step, one step at a time. They could visually see the instruction before attempting it themselves. If you don’t have a dry-erase board, you can use a chalk board or even just a piece of paper. Draw out the step, let them watch, then ask them to “copy-cat” what you’ve done. Sometimes, young artists may need more help than that. I would offer a “dot” or two on their paper, showing them a good place to start their line or end it. Also, it’s important to encourage your artist to draw “lightly” with their pencil so that mistakes are easily erased and won’t show through their painting in the end. Lastly, don’t forget to explain to your artist the importance of cleaning the paint off of the paintbrush before changing colors. You don’t want to mix colors directly in the color pan and ruin them.


  1. I had my students draw a “ground line” in the bottom half of the paper.
  2. They drew the outline of the cactus, starting with the center piece, followed by “the arms.”
  3. They added the “stripes” to the inside of the cactus and the needles along the outline of its shape.
  4. They drew a few rocks under the ground line.
  5. My Kindergarteners are too young to use a permanent marker, so I used a fine-tip Sharpie to carefully outline all of their pencil lines.
  6. Time to paint.  We first painted the ground with brown and then the cactus with green.  They painted the sky last.
  7. As you can see with the example on the right, I explained to them how to create a shadow, using very little, watered down black. Add it to the side of the cactus that is NOT facing the “sun”. We also created some shadows on the rocks.
  8. Then, we created sunlight or a highlight, using yellow, on the side of the cactus that is facing the sun.  This gives the painting a little more depth.

cactus art Collage

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