Japanese Umbrellas Watercolor Art Lesson for Kids

Watercolor Japanese umbrellas

Students will work on watercolor paper and develop a series of circles to create an interesting composition and layout. Using an ultra-fine point sharpie these circles will be designed into umbrella’s incorporated with line designs. We will be capturing an aerial view. Once created, we will paint with watercolor paints. Finally, we will embellish our painting with toothpick umbrella parasols (after removing toothpick) to our work of art, for a collage 3D effect. 

 Mini Japanese umbrellas


The Japanese umbrella is made with washi paper or silk cloth and bamboo bones. It has been defined as a living necessities in the ancient capital of Kyoto where varieties of local specialties are gathered from around the country. In more modern times, the Japanese umbrellas are fundamental in Kabuki, tea ceremonies, Japanese dancing and festivals in shrines and temples. They are also very popularly used as interior decoration in homes.  

Japanese umbrellas

There are three types of Wagasa:

Umbrella (Wagasa): The washi paper is greased and it can be used as an umbrella. It is a strong umbrella. The elegance and the beauty of the color of the washi paper flatters Japanese style clothing. It popularity has made it chosen for a memorial item for wedding, or a gift for celebrations.

Japanese Umbrella

Parasol for Dancing (Maigasa): This is the parasol for dancing. It is used for dancing and folk songs. It is light and easy to use. It is beautifully designed and are rich in color and used for various occasions.

Japanese Umbrella

Parasol (Higasa): This parasol is not greased and has a vivid color. It add color to various life events, for example, a wedding ceremony.

Japanese Umbrella

Recommended Art Materials:

9x12 watercolor paper
Graphite Pencil
Faber Castell Superfine Pitt Artist Pen
Paint Brush
Clic & Go Water Cup
Connector Paint Box
Paper Towels
Umbrella Toothpicks (3-5 per student)
Aleene’s Glue
Paper Plate
Popsicle Stick

Begin with pencil or Superfine Pitt Artist Pen. If you begin with pencil, you will need to then trace over the pencil lines. If you feel confident, you can go for it directly in marker. We suggest light whisper lines in pencils.

Step 1:

Make 8-10 circles. Some circles can go off the paper.

Step 2:

Add a dot on each circle.

Traced circles

This is the umbrella top. It is okay if the circle is not in the center of the circle, it will then look as if the umbrella is on an angle.

Step 3:

Use a ruler to draw straight lines away from dot.

Umbrella top drawing

You may choose to do this in pencil first and then marker. Continue working with the Superfine Pitt Artist Pen. Erase any pencil lines that are present.

Step 4:

Now we are ready to add our line designs and patterns, into each of the umbrellas. This can be done in pencil first, and then gone over with ultra-fine sharpie. Be creative with designing Japanese style umbrellas. Flowers, patterns and lines are often incorporated into the Japanese design work.

Drawing of an umbrella

Step 5:

Ready to paint! Once all pencil lines are erased, and you are sure there are no eraser pieces on your work of art, you are ready for watercolor painting! Be sure to have a piece of newsprint to rest on and a piece of paper towel available to clean brushes while painting.

Watercolor umbrellas

You will need a variety of paint brushes, including a fine point brush to get into the small spaces. Paint the entire work of art, choose one color for your background sky and paint all of the areas where there are not umbrellas and let dry.

Once painting is dry, using Aleene’s white glue on a paper plate and a Popsicle stick apply a small amount of glue to the underside of an opened toothpick umbrella. When the toothpick umbrella is open carefully push it up and lock it in place and snap off the toothpick. Place the glue carefully on the underside of the outer edges of the umbrella. Remember that a little amount of glue is all that you need. Only glue umbrella’s to painting, once painting is dry. Look for openings in your composition where there is not a painting umbrella and you can place one of the 3D umbrellas. Use 3-5 umbrellas in your work of art. Be sure not to overdo it!

Art lesson by: Amy Friedman 


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