Ready to paint? Set up here.

For each person, set out:
(You might like to do this the night before or have it set up in another room, if you have a group of children)

  • Little paint jars, one for each color
  • Painting board
  • Painting brush
  • Water color paint
  • Pint size jar for brush rinsing
  • Watercolor paper to paint on
  • cloth or sponge
  • smock or apron


  • large jar to mix paint with water if you are mixing up paint for several painters, otherwise, mix it right in the little jar
  • pan or vary large bowl that can hold sheet of paper flat in water, I use a cookie sheet with a bit of an edge, I have also used a very large stainless mixing bowl

If you do not have the exact item, improvise.

Set up your painting area ahead of time, mix the paints. If your child is new to painting, use one color, blue only. Next week add yellow, the following week, just red and yellow.
I like to follow the seasons with red and yellow in the fall, removing yellow and adding blue in winter, then adding yellow and removing red and then using all three colors in summer.

Since it’s Valentine’s you might like to use red only or Rose Madder if you have it. A little blue can be lovely too.

“let’s wipe the beard of our little brush friend, oopla, just like that”

Don’t worry too much about what color, if you are new to this, just plan for days when you and your child can experience the single colors.
To begin:
  • put on your painting apron or smock
  • put a little paint in the bottom of each jar, add a little water until the consistency is smooth, not too thick, not too runny, this will come naturally with time
  • Soak your paper in water for about 30 minutes, then put on board, blot up any puddles, do not rub across paper, this will come with time and practice too
  • signal that it is painting time, bring to closure whatever the child was doing, maybe with tidy up song or maybe the child is watching you, helping with the set up, already there and ready, you might sing a little painting song, I like this one:
Rainbow, lovely glow, put some color in my hand,
Together we’ll make a fairy land
Once the child is seated, I say:
On a sunbeam riding, a fairy came down
and whispered so softly to a plant in the ground :
Here’s your matle of red and kissing her softly, off she sped

or for blue:
Here’s your mantle of blue and kissing her softly, off she flew
Here’s your mantle of yellow and kissing her softly off she did follow…

When I get to “here’s your mantle of….. , “I set the paint down on the child’s painting board
Then I sit down and begin to paint, quietly, focused, I do not tell stories while painting to young children.

What is the mood of painting? Somber? Sort of. Reverent, yes. Approach it with an openess to the feeling of the color. Don’t speak of that to the child, just carry it within. Hmmnn….red, what does that feel like. Then play on the paper with the paint. Bring your strokes slowly all the way across the paper. No outlines, just swaths of color. Watch the water swirl. And the color intensify and lighten with the strokes of your brush.

If you have a young sibling at home who wants to join but is not ready to sit and paint on the page, give this child a sheet of wet paper and clear water to “paint” with. This can be the “painting” of young threes and children under three.

When you have completed your experience of painting, allow the paper to dry on the board.

I save paintings in a folder I have made for them and when we need to make a card, a name tag, a bookmark or a luggage tag, I use a watercolor painting and make it into something else. Of course I keep my favorites and do not chop them up.

Sarah Baldwin offers a lovely step by step demonstration of wet on wet watercolor painting on You Tube:



Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie has been actively involved in Waldorf education for the past fifteen years as a Waldorf school parent, homeschooler, parent child group leader, kindergarten teacher, aftercare giver and most recently in her home based nursery program, Lisa offers an interactive curriculum program to support parents of young children to find rhythm in daily, weekly and seasonal life through Celebrate the Rhythm of Life through the  Year, more on that may be found here. She is the Editor and Publisher of The Wonder of Childhood and has spent fifteen of the past seventeen years with one of her own children in early childhood (under seven years of age)  She has worked with children and their families from pregnancy through the grades. Lisa’s home based program The Children’s Garden began fourteen years ago. Lisa is currently on sabbatical from The Children’s Garden and finds herself drawn to working with adults in this phase of her life. She lives with her family in Vermont. Lisa blogs at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life where she offers a Waldorf Homeschool Curriculum Program for the Nursery and Kindergarten Age Child. She offers eCourses on topics of early childhood and hosts a discussion groups for parents of young children here.









2 Responses to Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting Tutorial

  1. Michelle says:

    This is wonderful, Lisa! Thank you! Believe it or not – I am using this to help me. I am in Foundation Studies and painting is new to me. Thank you for this inspiration!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    This is really special .Thanks alot for the resource very helpful.

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