I don't do it as much anymore, but I've always loved painting with watercolors. I've still got the two sets I carried around throughout high school, rubber-banded together and with a water bottle full of dirty-paint water. (I mean, I still have the paints. The rubber band and water bottle went off to live their own lives.)
In college, for reasons I no longer remember, I painted, like, a million apples. I have no idea why, but they're kinda pretty.
Like I said, it's pretty rare now that I pull them out, but during a texture-acquisition-frenzy, I made several pages of delightfully squishy paint-blobbers. And because It's What I Do, I made them into tea-towels. And if you want, you can buy them. They're the same luscious linen/cotton blend as the calendar tea-towels, printed fabulously by Spoonflower and hemmed lovingly by yours truly.
Now, book recommendations, what??? Am I pretending to be literate now? (No.) But when I started planning this post, I got to thinking about my childhood watercoloring adventures, and why exactly I have such great fondness for my beat-up little set of Prangs. I took some summer art classes, but my only clear memory of those was that we salt on wet washes to make little "stars" in the sky, and nothing else stuck. And then I remembered this book:
Watercolor: For the Artistically Undiscovered, by John Cassidy and Thacher Hurd. This book Is. Awesome. Unlike most kids' art books, the materials it comes with are actually GOOD quality-- I still have the Reeves brush that it came with, and I would have the paints too, if I hadn't completely used them up. Most of the book is actually watercolor paper with bits on the side to get you started, and plenty of open space for you to doodle with, and this is a book that really encourages doodling as opposed to trying to make perfect finished paintings right away. It's completely un-intimidating, but it has a lot of really good information presented in ways that I still remember today. If you have bored children who are even vaguely interested in making art, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
Aaaaaaaand, by the way-- I'm not an amazon associate or whatever that is, because I'm too lazy to google it and sign up or whatever, so these recommendations are completely unsponsored. I don't squat if you click through these links to buy the books, but they're good books! And cheap! Click away!
Paint, by Jeffery Camp, has what might be one of the most hideous covers ever, so I can't bring myself to post a picture here, but I remember looking through it a million times (though my copy is at my parents' house, so I couldn't tell you everything that it goes over). It's a DK book, (or Dorling Kindersley, if you're fancy), and I have never seen a DK book that wasn't an extremely high-quality reference. DK has a bunch of different series, and this is listed as DK Adult, which means it might have paintings with nekkid people in them? I don't remember, but I had it when I was in elementary or middle school, and don't recall anything too racy in it. It seems to be out of print, but it is definitely worth a library checkout.
DK also has a "DK Art School" series, which I remember as being equally fascinating. I had An Introduction To Drawing by James Horton, Oil Painting Portraits, by Ray Campbell Smith and An Introduction to Watercolor by Ray Campbell Smith. I cannot tell you how many times I looked through these books-- staring at the hundreds of pages that compare materials, demonstrate techniques, go through the history of the art forms, and highlight the great masterpieces associated with them. Artistically, these are books that helped shape me, and despite the fact that LIKE EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD IS NEW AND ELECTRIC and the things of my childhood are mostly obsolete, pancils and paper and pigment remain the same. I think? And they're like, $7 on Amazon, and probably at your local Half Price Books, too; so not a huge investment.
What am I, a book salesman? No. Ok. That's all for now, then.