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  • Lynn Coalson

Look! It turned orange!

Watercolor Painting with Outside Kids

Wet-on-wet watercolor painting is a technique taught in LifeWays early childhood programs, Waldorf schools, and Outside Kids! It’s a lovely artistic experience because the results are always beautiful in the child’s eyes (And our eyes too!)

Why Wet-on-Wet?

The intention is to bring to young children an experience of color. Wet paint applied to wet paper allows the color to flow across the page as if by magic. I like to say that it makes the colors alive.

At Outside Kids we begin painting with one color at a time so the children become familiar with the properties of the color mixed with water, how to hold the paint brush, how to gently tip toe the paint brush across the page with fluid sweeping strokes and when to give your brush a bath. The chosen color is painted as clouds and swirls and just like the clouds in the sky, some spots are very bright and rich in color while some are pale and have a little white shining through here and there. Even painting with just one color is beautiful.

After we have painted with each of the primary colors, it’s time to see what happens when we paint with two colors. The children get very excited when yellow invites red to come and play.

“Look! I made orange!” They get to have that wonder-filled moment to discover the magic of color blends for themselves! An adult telling them “Today we are going to make orange out of yellow and red” robs them of this magic and wonder. As our paintings begin to dry, they are hung up on a clothesline so Father Sun and Brother Wind can dry them all the way. The paintings are framed with a stick and some twine, ready to display at home. When it is someone's birthday, we use our paintings to make a bright and colorful birthday banner!

The process of setting up and cleaning up the painting table is something the children participate in. From filling the water jars, to setting the table with the mats and paint cloths, there is plenty of work for happy helpers. Taking care of our special materials is also important. It helps us model reverence. The colorful water is used to give our plants a drink. The glass jars and brushes are carefully rinsed and set on the table. We hang our aprons on the fence to dry in the sunshine. Then the painting mats and tables can be scrubbed. This work is splishy- splashy fun!

At Outside Kids, we strive to bring reverence, respect and rhythm to just about everything we do. And of course, joy!


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