Single Colour Paint Exploration. Process Art

Apr 4, 2013

For today's painting activity I wanted something that my toddler (currently 17 months) and preschooler (4 years) could do together. I decided on some process art where instead of trying to achieve some sort of art work or "finished product" at the end, it was all just about the exploration of the provided materials and the results they could achieve with those.

In order to try and make it more about the process, I provided (I think for the first time ever!) only one single colour.

Ages: 6 months +
(See Handy Tips at the bottom to extend or simplify to suit your child's needs)

Materials: Paint, large paper, various painting tools.

Maddie was keen to start exploring the tools while little N watched her keenly

Tools? Why would you use tools when you have your hands?

That's right. You could use the tools to move the paint around on your hand

Now I can paint with my hand and a brush

Big sister can't help but join in on this sensory fun

Time for more paint. Washable paint all the way!

I loved watching how M tried different things with each different tool. Here she went for a slapping effect.
With the absence of any other colours, she seemed to feel free to not have to create anything in particular.

When there was lots of paint it was fun to make paint patterns and swirls. Here the patterns were not from the paint but made from the void in the paint.

Working side-by-side encourages discussion and peer interactions such as sharing, taking turns and negotiations. 

Does it matter that we can't put this on the wall? Absolutely not.

Handy Tips

- When painting with a very young child you need to be careful that the paint you are using is non-toxic and easily washable. Most labels of paint will tell you they are not for use with children under 2 but so long as you are supervising your child, they should definitely be able to experience it. If they are still at an age where they insist everything go in their mouths, try making your own edible paint from yoghurt and food colouring or flour with colour etc. (These types probably won't end up on your walls either!) :)

- Extend this activity by having your child find some items from around the house or garden that they could use to make different types of patterns or effects with the paint. Challenge them to see how many different effects they could get from just the one tool, eg, a standard paintbrush. How can they think outside the box?

- Talk with your child about what they are doing. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "splatter", "print", "swirl" etc. This will help with their language development.

- Sticky tape the edges of your paper down to the table to keep it in place when painting with younger children

Here are some of our other fun ways to Paint:

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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  1. I'll have to try this again. It's been a while, so maybe I could convince my son that he doesn't need all the colors...he learned at a very young age that I had them, so any attempt to put a limited palate out since has been in vain! But I like the idea of focusing on getting different effects in other ways than just switching colors.

  2. I love this type of painting and exploration Deb...and sometimes I need to remind myself that my girls love it and don't need a particular project! My Ruby loves to paint her hands still and make handprints...I think she would just be happy to do that every time we paint! Love the pics of them working together x

  3. We're going to be experiencing single colours using water colours over the next week, so it was really interesting to see how you're kids responded. I can see we will learn lots from the experience and with only one colour it will take away the distractions so we can concentrate on the water colour process.

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