Gradation, using paint, can be taught successfully to children. It is important for them to be shown how to hold their brushes and how to work the paint with smooth flowing forward and backward strokes involving the wrist and arm. Some children will hold the brush at the far end not allowing for control. While others will have a pencil like grip near the bristle end that promotes short strokes and prevents the smooth transitions required for gradation.

Once students are familiar with producing long continuous strokes they can learn how to work one colour into another. I like to use acrylic paint for gradation on 220 gsm canvas paper. The children do not have access to water. They don't miss it. If a totally different colour is to be used for a new section of the painting the children use a clean dry brush. 


Each child has their own palette of acrylic paint. They are instructed to start with the darkest colour first  and work it across the page. Once a sufficient area is covered with this colour the second colour which is lighter is introduced about 1.5 cm above. This is then worked down into the first colour then back up as high as required. This is repeated with the third colour and continued as required.


Younger students who are working flat may find it easier to work on their page sideways. A lot of children simply do not know that they can turn their art work around as they work to make things easier for themselves.


An alternative method that works well with a large group is to use tempura block paints and small squares of sponge. Tempura colour isn't as intense as acrylic but is faster and more economical to use with children. The drawback is that it has a small window of work-ability. Using a wet paint soaked sponge the children quickly wipe it across the page covering as much of the page as needed. The sponge is changed to the next colour and the children wipe it across the page above the first colour working back into the initial colour before working up again. To obtain a gradated effect with the tempura the children need to work quickly and it helps to guide each child individually the first time they do this.

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Black Forest Primary School - 679 South Road Black Forest SA 5035

Phone: 0401 749 466


Current Class Schedule


Black Forest Primary School

Tuesday 3:30 to 5:00 pm

Friday 3:30 to 5:00 pm