wet-on-wet painting


Fiona told me the other day that when she becomes an adult, she wants to paint animals and houses. Then later in the day as she was flipping through The Very Hungry Caterpillar, she pointed at an illustration and exclaimed, "Mama! Look! This is what I want to do." Well, my dear, then you will. Let's get to work.

Wet-on-wet painting is traditionally taught in Waldorf schools. You may have noticed we have a lot of Waldorf inspiration going on around here. There is so much inspiration to be found in the Waldorf approach to early childhood.


For wet-on-wet painting, you will need:

Heavyweight watercolor paper

Watercolor paintbrush, 1" wide flat bristle

Watercolors in one or several shades (We use Stockmar)

Small jars for each paint shade

Large jar for water

Waterproof painting board or counter


1. Lay your paper on a waterproof surface, like your kitchen counter. Thoroughly soak the paper with a wet sponge. Slide the sponge gently side to side across the surface, then top to bottom. Turn paper over and repeat on the other side. Give it some time to soak in the water while you prepare the paint. Another way to soak paper would be to submerge the paper completely in a tray full of water for 10-15 minutes. We didn't have a tray, so we opted for using a sponge.

2. Put about a teaspoon of paint in the bottom of your small jars, then fill 1/3 with water. Mix the water and paint. You might want to test the mixture to be sure you are happy with the intensity of the color, then add either more paint or more water if necessary.

3. Lay the piece of wet paper on your painting board. Smooth out any bubbles and wipe off any excess water.

4. Paint! I just let Fiona experiment with the paint without much direction aside from encouraging her to fill the page and have fun with it. When you're done painting, let the paper dry completely while it's still on the board.


Fiona asks to paint this way often, so this has become a  regular feature during art time. I have even pre-mixed the paints  and kept them in the fridge a couple times to cut down on prep time so  we can jump right into painting.

If you'd like more information about the wet-on-wet technique, check out the book Painting with Children. My favorite thing about the book is the examples of children's work. After doing her own paintings, Fiona really enjoyed looking through the book with me. The results are so beautiful!