Let’s have fun making a cat on a mat. We’ll paint wet-in-wet with the light-filled colors loved by the Impressionists and weave the painting into a mat for a happy cat! You’ll discover how to draw a cat and learn a basic tabby weave.
In this post you’ll find:
- Supply list
- Step-by-step directions
- Helpful hints
- Creative variations and adaptations for different ages
- 4 Vocabulary and art and design principles children will learn
- 4 ways this activity aids children’s mental, physical, and social development
- Clean-up tips
- Cute Molly Photo
Let’s have Fun Making Art!
- 9X12 “ Watercolor paper (smooth or rough is fine). You can find inexpensive pads or packs at craft stores and in the craft section of places like Walmart.
- Choose your favorite color of construction paper for the loom.
- A larger white piece of paper as a background for the mat
- Crayons or oil pastels
- Watercolor paint set and brush
- Pictures of cats
- Drawing paper
- Pencils, erasers, scissors
- Crayons to color the cat
- White glue
- With crayons draw curvy and straight lines, dots, spirals, etc. in different colors all over the watercolor paper. Leave lots of white space for the paint. These marks have to be crayon or oil pastels.
- Mix several puddles of watercolor paint. Your puddle should flow, but have lots of pigment.
- Use a large wet but not dripping brush or rag to wet paper with clear water. The paper should be a more than just damp, but no standing water.
- Start adding watercolors, allowing them to flow and mix . Paint right over the crayon or oil pastel. The wax resists the paint and stays bright.
- Allow to dry.
The Cat (do this while your painting dries)
- Really study pictures of cats. Notice these details:
- the roundish shape of heads
- the oval shape of bodies
- the rounded triangular-shaped ears that are more on top of their heads
- the shape are eyes and pupils
- the thickness of tails
- cats often wrap their tails around themselves so you can’t see their paws
- Before drawing, picture in your mind where the cat’s head and body will be. Use your fist to help you imagine where to put the head that will leave room for both the ears and the body.
- Draw lightly, sketching, so you can erase a line you don’t want.
- Color your cat. You may want to color it in a Tabby pattern, which is stripes in any color.
- Cut out your cat
The Loom and Weaving
- Cut the painting into 1 inch strips the long way.
- Make a paper loom (See pictures)
- Use masking tape to temporarily hold the loom on the white paper
- Weave the 1st watercolor strip through the loom—under, over, under, over
- Start the 2nd strip the opposite–over, under, over, under
- In tabby weave each strip should be opposite to the previous strip
- Keep gently pushing the strips together and up toward the top of your loom, until you run out of room for more strips
Putting It All Together
- Glue your mat to the white paper
- Glue your cat on top of the mat
- Draw and color cat-related designs around the border of the mat
Now display your happy cat on its colorful mat for everyone to see! Enjoy how the crayon glows through the watercolor!
More Ideas and Tips to Make Your Cat on a Mat
- As you paint, pick up your paper and move it around to help colors mix
- Don’t mix too long, or colors become muddy
- If your painted paper curls, flatten it with a book after it’s dry
- When drawing lines for the loom and watercolor strips, do these on the back so they don’t show later
- Masking tape holds the loom in place but can be removed without as much damage as cellophane tape
Variations and adaptations for different ages:
- Cut wavy lines for the loom
- If you don’t have watercolor paper, sponge paint some sturdy paper with tempera paints
- Add ribbon or yarn bows to your cat
- I do this project with 1st graders, and I cut the watercolor strips and make the looms, but they love doing everything else!
- If children aren’t sure whether they want their painting to be cut, number the strips so they can weave them in order.
- Color your cat in wild colors
4 Vocabulary and art and design principles children will learn
- Crayon resist—crayon’s wax content resists water-based paints and remains bright. Oil pastels work the same way.
- Sketch—to draw an object with short, light strokes, sometimes lightly redrawing a line before erasing the unwanted line.
- Pattern—the repetition of a design. Tabby cats have a striped pattern.
- Tabby weave—the over and under pattern that is opposite in each row.
4 Ways this activity aids children’s mental, physical, and social development
- Weaving helps children develop fine motor skills.
- Drawing helps children take time to look carefully, seeing details as well as the overall picture. Important in every subject, but especially in learning to recognize individual letters and word patterns for beginning reading.
- Making choices with colors, patterns, etc. enhances problem-solving skills.
- Making art enhances creativity and refreshes minds and eyes tired from screens.
Clean up Hints:
- Plastic table cloth or large paper under your work
- Paper towels
- A plastic dish tub holds things to be washed
- A wastebasket for paper scraps
- After washing and rinsing brushes, reshape bristles and lay them flat to dry. Store with bristles up in a container.
Check out these Great Freebies Before You Go
Watch for a special thank you gift for our newsletter subscribers coming in early December. Molly the Artsy Corgi has some Christmas art ideas you and your children will love. These fun and easy projects will provide shared moments of calm and invite Jesus into your busy holidays. Don’t miss out. Sign up for our newsletter today!
If you sign up, you’ll right away receive a free guide to 5 Ways Art Benefits Children’s Cognitive, Physical, Spiritual, and Social Development, with a Few Fun and Easy Activities for each Benefit. And once a month more activity ideas for art, history, and nature, curriculum connections, and links to more resources will come to your inbox.
Visit our website to get free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages and coloring pages for kids and an updated list of my hands-on workshops, chapels, and presentations for all ages.
Molly the Artsy Corgi hopes you enjoy making a happy cat on a mat! You can read our first post about Renoir here, and Molly and I hope you’ll come back next time for a devotion based on our cats on a mat art activity.
And finally a cute Molly Photo
She thinks she’s helping me get ready for our walk!