Wet on Wet Painting with Stockmar watercolours
This way of painting is very rewarding and enjoyable and an integral part of Steiner Waldorf kindergartens and schools. It is quite simple to achieve at home with a little preparation and planning.
With young children who have never experienced painting like this before, it is wonderful to start with just one colour, say yellow. The painting will be like beautiful clouds of colour with varying degrees of intensity. Each colour can be explored on its own. Then one day, you can add another colour, say red. And your children will exclaim in wonder “look, I made some orange!” – a wonderful discovery for a child to make for themselves, no explanations are necessary.
The wet paper allows the colours to flow and change – it is hard to create a specific form, and this is good for young children so they can experience colour, rather then having to create a picture. Once dry, it is enjoyable to see what comes out in their painting – maybe a fish can be seen, or a bird or a squirrel.
“One of the best experiences of colour for the young child comes through painting with watercolours on wet paper. Colours are in their own true element in water” Rahima Baldwin
We recommend using Stockmar Watercolours – Carmine, Lemon Yellow and Ultramarine (Myriad’s Stockmar Watercolour Starter Set). With just these three primary colours you can paint a whole spectrum. By mixing the colour with water and placing the paint in a glass jar, young children can clearly see the colour in the jar and associate that with the colour on the paper. (conversely, paint tins do not allow this, the paint tablet does not look like the colour your get on the paper). This is why this method of watercolours in jars is preferred for young children.
You will need:
Painting paper (aquarelle paper, watercolour paper)
Paint brush (for children, flat and at least 16mm wide)
Jars for paint (our glass paint jar in wooden stand, or small condiment or baby food sized jars) and a larger jar for water
Painting board (ready made, or make your own from well sanded plywood and a few coats of varnish)
Sponges and rags (for drying off brush after rinsing and mopping up drips)
1) Prepare paper – Trim corners into curves (this is optional, however for young children this is quite nice as they do not have to paint themselves in to a “corner” they can just continue to flow with the brush past the softened corner and up and around). Soak the paper by either laying it in a large sink or tub with cold water for an hour or so, or warm water for 15 min (depends on weight of paper). Lay sheets of paper in water one at a time, so they do not stick together.
2) Mix paint into jars – Put a small amount of watercolour paint in jar and add water. Test mixed paint on paper to see if it is sufficiently diluted. Add more water or paint, as desired. If there are several painters, it is nice to have separate jars for paint. And each painter should have a wrung out sponge or rag for drying off their paint brush.
3) Remove paper from water, one sheet at a time, and use a sponge to “wallpaper” the paper smooth on either a painting board or directly onto a table (depending on surface). Please note, the painting cannot be removed until dry. Wipe with sponge to remove bubbles and smooth the surface. Paper should be wet, not with pools of water visible. Press down and away to remove air bubbles. With practice you will get better at this.
4) Each painter gets jar/jars of paint, large jar with clean water, a sponge or rag, painting board with soaked paper. In between colours, painters should be shown how to clean brush in clean water, dry off on sponge or rag, and then dip into next colour.
5) A story or poem can accompany a painting session, perhaps before paint brushes are handed out.
6) When finished, painting need to dry for several hours.
7) Unused, diluted Stockmar Watercolour paint should be refrigerated.
You can find out more about wet on wet painting Steiner Waldorf style, in the book: Painting with Children. This book goes into depth and there are several verses to set the mood for painting. Even adults can gain much from this simple painting method. It is lovely to make a special time for painting every week and sharing each others joy in what you create.
The sunlight shines into each day
And sends the dark of night away
It brings the colors to my eyes
The bright green earth, the deep blue skies.
The yellow sun, the red, red rose
That in the gentle garden grows.
And from within my loving heart
The light always conquers dark
So on my paper let it be
Sunlight and water – joyfully.
Myriad resources for painting with children: