Students explore a variety of painting techniques using a range of brushes and colours.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 10


Art Techniques
Visual Arts


blend bristle brushstroke colour dry brush ferrule handle opaque texture transparent value


Crayola Washable Paint Bristol Board 3 pieces per student 30.5 cm x 38 cm (10"x 15") Water Containers Paper Towels Paint Brushes

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EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step One

Step One

Choose a brush. Choose a colour. Begin by making some free brushstrokes. 

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Two

Step Two

Choose a new brush. Choose a new colour. Work the new colour into the first colour to see what happens.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Three

Step Three

Continue to play with the colours and brush strokes. Add layers of colour.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Four

Step Four

Be spontaneous. Let your imagination tell you what to do. Try new combinations of colours. Make things look different than what you have already done.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Five

Step Five

Try pressing the end of the brush handle into wet paint.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Six

Step Six

Try painting over an area with hardly any paint on your brush. This is called dry brush technique. It leaves scratchy lines.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Seven

Step Seven

Use contrasting colours. Vary the pressure of your brush. Notice what happens when you press down hard, and when you use a light touch.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Eight

Step Eight

Try making different textures with the brush. Let the brushstrokes show.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Nine

Step Nine

Notice what happens when you blend white paint right into another colour, blue, for example. And when you paint it lightly, in streaks over a surface.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Ten

Step Ten

Try painting with a very dry brush over textured areas. See what happens when you dip the end of the brush handle into paint and press it onto the paper.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Blending, Colour - Step Eleven

Step Eleven

Notice your work area. See how helpful the newspaper was to dab off paint and test colours. The plastic lids are really useful for keeping black away from your other colours. The painting is filled with lots of different colours, textures and brushstrokes. There is a lot of blending of colours, and lots of layering. 

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Use paintbrushes to create a variety of effects with washable paints;
  2. Blend paint colours to create a range of values and hues;
  3. Build on their own and others’ discoveries to generate new ideas;
  4. Explain their process;
  5. Express opinions about the works; and
  6. Support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


  1. Set up a work area that students may visit when they are finished other work early, or need a break.
  2. Challenge them to set a personal challenge and then meet it, for example, 'Make a strip that starts with red at one end and blue at the other and they gradually blend together.'
  3. Have them post their experiments with a brief explanation of their process on a central bulletin board so they can learn from each other.


  1. Place students in groups so they can share ideas.
  2. Spread newspaper on tables for easy clean up.
  3. Provide a paint kit - paints, palettes, paper towel, water containers, plastic lids, and a variety of paintbrushes for each group.
  4. Cut Bristol board into quarters.


  1. Explain that washable paint is semi-opaque so it can be used in a variety of ways.
  2. When first applied it is transparent, but as you add layers of paint it becomes more opaque. 
  3. Ask students to share what they know about painting in general.
  4. Point out the parts of a paintbrush.
    The bristles - the hair of the brush;
    The ferrule - the metal part that holds the bristles together; and
    The handle - the wooden or plastic part that you hold when painting. 
  5. Ask them to try to keep the paint on the bristles, not the ferrule.
  6. Remind them that they can use the handle of the brush to make marks with too.
  7. Explain that today's class is for experimenting with washable paint and brushes. 
  8. It's a time to play with ideas and see what happens.
  9. They should try to get as many different effects as they can, share ideas and learn from each other.
  10. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Use washable paints.
  2. Use paint brush marks to create lots of different effects 
  3. Experiment with blending to create light, dark and new colours.
  4. Experiment with lots of different ideas.
  5. Explain your process.
  6. Express opinions about the works.
  7. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Demonstrate how to begin by thinking out loud, for example,
    Hmm, I think I'll choose red paint, and this nice fat brush.
    Let's see what happens when I do this..... and so on.
  2. Encourage students to be intuitive and thoughtful at the same time. Making a mark freely, then thinking about what to do next.
  3. Encourage them to 'listen to the marks they make and let the painting tell them what to do next.'
  4. Part way through the class ask students to do a walk about to see what others have done, ask questions and come back to their painting with fresh eyes.


  1. Place students in small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    Talk about how various parts of the images make them feel. 
    Compare their work and describe to each other what they did to get certain effects.
    Consider how doing these experiments might help them if they were painting a picture.


  1. Have students cut their experimental painting into rectangles 10 cm x 15 cm (5"x 7.5") to form a set of 6 cards.
  2. Ask them to look at each one individually and answer these questions on the back:
    What does this card remind me of? Why?
    How could I use this effect in a picture? Why?
    What else could I do with this technique?
  3. Provide students with envelopes for storing their cards.
  4. They can use the cards for inspiration throughout painting lessons, and add to them if you continue to do the other experiments in Techniques.