Students explore a variety of painting techniques using a range of brushes and only one colour plus black and white.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 10


Art Techniques


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

Shop Crayola Products


EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Monochromatics - Step One

Step One

Choose a colour. Choose a paintbrush. Divide up the space. Let the lines flow.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Monochromatics - Step Two

Step Two

Start painting into the spaces. See what happens when you paint black over the colour.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Monochromatics - Step Three

Step Three

See what happens when you paint a new layer of red over the black. Keep adding layers until you get an effect you like.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Monochromatics - Step Four

Step Four

Use the end of your brush handle to scratch lines into wet paint.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Monochromatics - Step Five

Step Five

Try blending the spaces in between the lines by mixing in some white or black to create soft contrast.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Monochromatics - Step Six

Step Six

See the difference? Both techniques are effective depending on what you are trying to say in a painting.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Monochromatics - Step Seven

Step Seven

Keep working in the spaces trying out your ideas. Think about how to make brush marks show. How to make areas stand out.

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Monochromatics - Step Eight

Step Eight

When you place light beside dark you get strong contrast and the feeling of depth. What happens when you make a more gradual transition from dark, to medium, to light values?

EXPLORING WASHABLE PAINT – Monochromatics - Step Nine

Step Nine

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 values, textures and brushstrokes. There is a lot of blending of colours, and lots of layering.There is splattering of watery paint.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Use paintbrushes to create a variety of effects with washable paints;
  2. Blend black, white or grey with one colour of paint to create a range of values;
  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 white 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. Tell them that they will only have one colour to work with plus white and black. This means they will be painting with a 'monochromatic colour scheme'.
  9. It's a time to play with ideas and see what happens.
  10. They should try to get as many different effects as they can, share ideas and learn from each other.
  11. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Use washable paints.
  2. Use paint brush marks to create lots of different effects. 
  3. Blend black, white or grey with one colour of paint to create lots of light and dark areas.
  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.
    Blending Colour