The Process of Painting Paper

Recently I have received numerous emails asking how to make painted papers. The whole process of painting papers is the students favorite thing to create in the artroom. They love to paint. 
With these helpful suggestions you will too!

Construction Paper
Step 1: Grab various paper. I used 12″ x 18″ drawing paper and 
12″ x 18″ Tru-Ray Construction paper.  
Tru-Ray is really strong and does not tear 
when loads of paint is applied.

Step 2: I use So Big brushes by Crayola. They are really tough brushes for little hands. I also use some other brushes as well but Crayola handles the wear and tear of painting year after year. I suggest to the students to “hop” around their paper. 
No blending. We want to see the paint and brush strokes.
Sometimes we use texture brushes along with cardboard tubes, plastic lids and rings. Any item you can paint with or leave a print will work! I ordered these from Lakeshore. 
(A pre-primary/primary school catalog.)

Step 3: Grab the paints. I use Prang, Dick Blick and Crayola. I have found the premium paint is brighter and opaque. 
Washable paint is not as vivid.

Don’t forget your placemats to keep your tables clean.
 I use 18″ x 24″ manilla tagboard as placemats. They are durable and last a whole semester!

When I paint all day I start with yellow, oranges and white. 
When you add white to the paint it creates a tint (a lighter color).

 Then I go to the next color grouping : Yellow, Green and White
 Blues, Purples and again add white for some tints.
Sometimes we just need to use up paints so we mix it up!

 Spray bottles filled with watered down paint or watercolors create beautiful effects on the previous painted paper.

When you are painting paper with 5 classes a day you need a large drying rack. This has been a life saver. I can get four 12″ x 18″ sheets on one shelf. Just imagine the rainbow of colors of painted paper at the end of the day!
If you are painting with a few children you can lay the sheets on a table or on the floor. Use a plastic table cloth as a drop cloth.

I store the sheets in stacks of rainbows so it is easy 
to grab for future projects.

Enjoy the processing of mixing beautiful colors on paper-


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  • Reply
    Snippety Gibbet
    February 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    What a wonderful idea. Create them and then store them for future use. Brilliant. Painted paper is surely your medium. jan

  • Reply
    Hope Hunter Knight
    February 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing your tips. In the past, I have only used painted paper for my 1st grade Eric Carle lesson, but this has me thinking that maybe each grade level should be assigned a color at the beginning of the year and make a huge supply. I can focus on that grade's standard involving color mixing or schemes, then save it all and share among every grade for any activity that would be enhanced by the pained papers. Let's see, where is my to-do list?

  • Reply
    February 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Your site has really inspired me to paint more paper. When we finished up a painting unit, I had students use up the leftover paint to paint paper for later projects. I wanted to ask about your drying rack. Where did you get it? What size? The one I have is not great, and I will have some money to spend soon. Thanks!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2012 at 1:21 am

    Quick question-
    I have the same drying rack that you do and the shelves don't stay up on their own. Is there a trick?

  • Reply
    March 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Oh my! I had two custodians put mine together. It took a while- 3 hours to put together. They tightened the tension to make them stay up. On the side of the rack you can tighten with a wrench, once you do tighten it should pull the shelves up then you just push the shelves down when needed. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    R Smith
    March 18, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    what brand is your drying rack?

  • Reply
    Melony Maughan
    January 17, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    A quick question: you use colored construction paper as your base color and not white, correct? I’ve seen other techniques where the base color is painted onto the paper–I have limited time so the colored paper might work best for me. Also, how exactly do they “clean” their brushes on the mats? I have always used water and am trying to wrap my head around no water!

    • Reply
      January 21, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Hi Melony, We use large placemats 18 x 24, most of our projects are created on 12 x 18 construction paper (Tru Ray). When we create painted paper we use colored construction paper~ just to add an extra background color. When we paint my students are taught to use light colors first then move to the darker colors. When switching to another color, if there is any extra paint on the brush just wipe the brush dry on the placemat and move to another color. I found that the kids do not waste paint, there is no need for water, and the colors of the paint are so much more brighter. Plus you have beautiful painted mats for other projects. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 13, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    How do you pour and store paint for so many kids, and give color choices without them mixing and ruining the paint for the next group, does the next group deal with the mixed stuff if a kid forgets to wash and accidentally blackens a yellow? How do you keep from running out of colors and running around like a waitress when a table runs out of random colors? I love love painting but have given up on thick tempera for the watercolor cakes and want so badly to go back to it without being so exhausted.

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