There are two main challenges in watercolor painting: controlling the amount of water/ paint on the brush and controlling the movement and pressure. We have a great new toy that allows The King to focus on the pressure and movement because it controls the first part for you. The Pentel Color Brushes are not cheap (about $7 at Hobby Lobby without a coupon), not washable, I don’t know how long they will last, and haven’t figured out if you can refill them, but we really, really like them. Crayola has also just started making “5 count Brush Paint Pens.” I have seen these at Michaels and at Target. They are about $5 for 5. These would probably be a great treat on an airplane for a kid who loves to paint.
Working with Chinese calligraphy encourages kids (and adults!) to focus on pressing down to make a thicker line, lifting for a thin line and going slowly to observe and reproduce the line’s curves and length. These pens are not the proper materials for Chinese calligraphy but do work quite well except when it comes to making some of the little knobs at the ends of the lines. Our favorite Chinese calligraphy book is Chinese Calligraphy Made Easy, though The King says it should be titled Chinese Calligraphy Made a Little Less Hard!