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Etegami (Japanese Folk Art)

I recently learned of Etegami, a Japanese folk art. It's a simple hand-painted drawing accompanied by a few words. It's usually done on postcards and they are meant to be sent to someone. What I love about this style of art is that is not meant to be perfect. The paint can go out of the lines or not cover everything and that is the desired look. I taught this technique to a few middle school classes and the kids loved the project. It's so easy and fun. The kids really enjoyed making their creations.

Total Time: Not very long to make a picture. But, we made lots!

Yield: to make!

Source: Japanese folk art



  1. Cut your watercolor paper into quarters, so that it's postcard sized.
  2. Traditionally, etegami is done with sumi ink to make the outline of the picture. Since we had none, we used Sharpies to draw the outline. The kids liked not waiting for the ink to dry before they painted the color on. Most etegami pictures are a simple design with a few colors.
  3. Apply the paint to your picture. Remember, it doesn't need to be perfect. Just have fun with the color and go to your "happy place"!
  4. Write a couple of words or a short message.
  5. You can mail your masterpieces or keep them!

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