By Indrani Perera | indraniperera.com
Painting with small children can seem very daunting. All that mess! But with the right materials and preparation it can be a little less messy and lots of fun. I started painting weekly with my daughters when they were 3 and 7. We all loved sitting around the kitchen table painting.
Painting wet on wet lets the colours magically blend and swirl together. The paint on the wet paper mixes together to form new colours and interesting patterns. It’s easy to get absorbed in the process.
Painting in the Steiner style adds songs and verse to the activity. Older children in particular may struggle to come up with an idea of what to paint. A verse or story will appeal to their imagination and fill their mind with pictures to share on the page.
Wet on wet painting tutorial
You will need
- Painting board
- A3 watercolour paper
- Large brushes
- Stockmar watercolour paint (red, yellow, blue)
- Two large glass jars half filled with water
- 1 small jar/tin to hold the brushes
- 3 small(ish) jars with lids for the paint
- Apron/smock to cover clothes
- Hair tie for long hair
Notes: buy good quality art paper, it’s really worth the investment as it won’t disintegrate as you’re painting.
Stockmar watercolours can seem quite expensive but a little bit goes a long way. You only need the primary colours - with them you can make everything else. They come in two of each primary colour. Choose either carmine red, ultramarine blue and lemon yellow OR vermillion, Prussian blue and golden yellow.
Tip: have a sponge handy to clean paint off the walls as it happens.
1. Preparing the paint
Give the paint bottle a good shake. Put a small amount (about a five cent piece) of paint into the small glass jar.
Add some water and mix together with a brush. Repeat for each colour.
Once made, the paints can be stored in the fridge in their jars with the lids on. They will last a few weeks, you’ll just need to give them a stir before use.
When starting, only give two colours to your child (eg red and blue) so that they learn how they mix together. After a few weeks when they have explored those colours, give them another combination (eg blue and yellow). When you have done all the colour combinations, let them experiment with all three colours at once.
2. Set up the art space
Set up the table for each child with a painting board, 2 glass jars half full of water and brushes in a jar, bristles facing up (this keeps them nice and pointy for painting).
3. Name and dating
Write your child’s name and date on the back of the piece of paper. Round the corners of each piece of paper with a pair of scissors.
4. Apron tying
Ask your kids to roll up their sleeves, put on art smocks and tie their hair back.
5. Wetting paper
Have your child help you run the paper under water from the tap. Drain excess water into the sink and place the paper on the painting board.
When they are sitting at the table, read a poem or tell a story to inspire ideas.
7. Handing out the colours
Sing or say this verse as you give each child their colours.
“Rainbow fairies soft and light, bring us colours bright.”
8. Knock knock
By now they’ll be itching to paint. Just one more step before they can. Teach your kids to keep their brushes clean with this little story:
Take your child’s brush and tap on the paint jar and say, “Knock, knock, knock. May I come in?” In a different voice, sing out, “Only if you’re very clean.” Then take the brush and dip it in the water, then back to the paint. “Knock, knock, knock. May I come in now?” and the paint replies, “Oh you’re nice and clean. Yes you may.”
For very small children you may need to repeat this little story.
9. Start painting
Now the fun begins - paint away!
When your child wants to change colours from red to blue, help them use the rinsing water jar to clean. Then dip the brush into the clean water jar, pressing excess water from the brush against the top of the jar.
10. Drying and packing away
When the paintings are finished, move the painting board somewhere out of the way to dry.
Get your child to help put the paint away in the fridge, wash the brushes and clean the table.
Indrani Perera is a a homeschooling mama of two girls aged 7 and 11. They're currently into their fifth year of homeschooling. Indrani shares insights and experiences in making the life she wants on her blog and Instagram. Her big passions are craft and nature and sharing them with her girls.