I am constantly asked about what paints I use in my art classroom studio. I have tried many paints over the years. To be honest, some are just not as great as others. If you want bold bright colors then I suggest a good premium tempera. A good tempera is opaque and covers the paper nicely. These paints may cost more, but are better in the long run because they last much longer and you do not need as much.
If your goal is for your kids to explore and experience the process of painting, then a washable paint is fine. Since I paint so much, I prefer the premium tempera non-washable instead of the washable tempera.
I also prefer the quart size containers. They are perfect when I need to replenish a color at the various work tables. Since we use egg carton containers to hold our paint, I don’t have to remove the egg carton paint trays while the kids are working. (Kids love having 12 colors of tempera paint to choose from when creating.) In my opinion, gallon jugs are a pain to pour and the pumps usually clog. When I am done trying to fill paint containers, I have more paint on me and my clothes than in the trays.
HINT: I store my tempera paint according to like colors. For example, the warm colors: yellow, orange, red, all go together.
The cool colors: green, blue, purple go together. It is easy to remember where the paints are, especially when time is precious and you need to grab and go.
I save my empty paint containers for pre-mixed paints. This is a game changer when you want various colors for a project and don’t want to spend time constantly mixing prior to use.
My favorite paints are Blick Premium Tempera, Saxs, Crayola and Faber-Castell. Those are the ones I use all the time. Crayola has beautiful turquoise and magenta colors. Faber Castell has really nice colors and come in smaller, manageable containers.
I also order Solo brand condiment cups for when only one color of paint is needed, such as white or black.
Don’t forget the “painting placemats” to keep your table clean. Less clean up is my goal. Using large sheets of manilla tagboard as the placemats attributes to my motto “Less stress without the mess.”
Have a question or comment? Feel free to ask.
BettyFebruary 3, 2018 at 7:54 pm
Good info…I have been using the washable, but I do think the colors are not very vibrant. Will look at crayola or blick next time around. I like grouping the colors in the same manner…thanks! The grands, grandpa and I have been doing three or four painted pages a week and find our patterns with the tap, tap, tap are to repetitive for any real variation. I see so much variation in your patterned papers…What other layering strokes work best?
LauraFebruary 4, 2018 at 11:12 am
Have you tried using a piece of cardboard and scrapping the paint on the paper. Maybe use a sponge and dip into the paint, that creates a beautiful texture. I use various items such as big 3 inch brushes and drag around the paint on the paper too. Tin foil scrunched up and paper towels also work great. Keep experimenting with various items. 🙂
StephanieFebruary 26, 2018 at 8:00 pm
Hi, I noticed you use egg cartons for your tempera paint. Can you tell me more about why you like using those? When closed does the paint stay wet? Do you have trouble with the paint getting muddied up by kids forgetting to rinse in between colors or who love to mix on purpose? Is it something you just refill and set back out for each class? I have been using paper plates which is fine when my students are experimenting with mixing colors because I end up needing new palettes for the next class. But with other projects these egg cartons seem like they would be really handy. Filling up the paper plates take a lot of time and I hate having to throw them away at the end of the day when we are doing it all again the next day or even the next week. I teach 1000 students grades k-5, just started a couple years ago and I am still trying to get the hang of it all. Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas!
LauraMarch 2, 2018 at 8:02 pm
I use the egg cartons for ease of dispensing the paint to the tables, plus the paints stay fresh for a couple days. I teach my students to start with the lightest colors and work their way down to the darker colors. I do pick up the cartons if the next class does not need them. If they need to mix they mix the paint on their papers. If a student purposely mixes the paints up for their entire table, then I state “I’m sorry you are not ready to create” and they have to stop and sit out. Fortunately, I have not had to have students sit out. If they paint their hands on purpose they are also “not ready to create” It takes one time in the younger grades and they never do it again. Ask parents to send in the egg cartons and you will be set for the year. Hope I answered your questions. Laura xoxo
Stephanie whitingMarch 2, 2018 at 8:31 pm
Thank you! That does help! I am still learning all the tricks not just in teaching art but classroom management too. It’s only my second year. Love the rules and the way you word them. Can’t wait to try the egg cartons, I think it will definitely be a time saver! Especially thursdays when I teach 5th then 2nd then 5th then 3rd then 2nd again ? I finally got smart and all 3 grades are using the same medium this time around.
BettyMarch 9, 2018 at 10:34 am
I am planning to use up our current tempura and try the Blick brand…ours are not so vibrant. Wondering too, what is manilla tag board and where to you buy it? I have large calendar pages that we have been working on, but the finish and color would not make nice cut paper for use in artwork when cut up.
LauraMarch 11, 2018 at 9:28 am
Hi Betty, the manilla tag board is purchase from School Speciality. https://www.schoolspecialty.com/pacon-tagboard-white-085508 I like the Manilla color better than the white tag board.
BelindaMarch 30, 2018 at 5:08 am
Hi Laura, where do you work? I am in. Australia and looking to visit some schools during my holidays in the States in September
LauraMarch 30, 2018 at 9:51 am
Hi Belinda, I am in Ohio 🙂
Jen RAugust 16, 2018 at 5:21 pm
What size paper do you use for the warm and cool sun rayS?