Exploring Relational Patterns through Watercolour by Honorata

29th January 2021

Quirky families in watercolour as a tool of exploring relational patterns


We all have families and complicated issues within them, whether that be extended or close family- this is a space for exploration of relating patterns.

Sometimes uncovering the family relationship maybe hard due to unwillingness to explore it or certain aspects still being a part of our unconscious.

The activity I am presenting here is the blend of playfulness and seriousness in one act of art. The playfulness is brought up on purpose- helps to relax, allows unconscious to come through, provides feeling of safety for the client. Then the actual work after the activity- looking at the picture and working with client on getting more insight can bring some unexpected form of playful part realisations.

Art part


  • Watercolour paints or inks
  • Brushes and water
  • Watercolour paper
  • Black pen
  • Hair dryer or heat gun to speed up drying process


Invite client to create a quirky family group portrait (between 4-8 people per page) and give them time to decide who they would like to include.

First stage is about creating on paper a few watercolour strains resembling very loosely human faces. Keep it very loose and mix a few colours, wet on wet technique is the best- wet brush applied to paper and then adding watercolour. Allow all the semi-faces to dry. They do not need any details at this stage so no eyes, noses etc. Just indication of face, hair and neck. They can be front facing or profiles.



Second stage is an application of black pen on top of the watercolour stains to form a very quirky portrait.

Paint must be fully dry for this stage so you can use hair dryer or heat gun before starting. Pen allows to add boundaries of the faces and then more details. This is an expressive stage and encourage client to go beyond paint boundary, form different styles of eyes, hairs, accessories etc. This is about playfulness and expressiveness. When portraits are ready you may also offer adding small labels against each face indicating who they are.




Reflective part:

This material now is  ready for reflective work.

As you will be working with the client the way it is explored will vary but here are some suggestions what can be explored in aperson-centred way:

  • Who is included in a group portrait? Who is not?
  • Who is standing out in any way (different colour, size, theme): for example in one family group one person had a shape of the moon- see picture.
  • Explore features of chosen family members
  • Explore face expressions of family members- is somebody there displaying specific emotions?
  • Is client included in the group portrait?
  • Are the places of each portrait significant? Who is located next to whom?
  • Is colour playing a role?



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One reply on “Exploring Relational Patterns through Watercolour by Honorata”

Tanja says:

I love how versatile this intervention is. I love that it begins with colour and then layers the faces and meaning we give to each. This is beautiful. Thank you!

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