Wet-on-wet Watercolour 4, Finishing Complimentaries, Blends, & Large and Small Figures

In my last post I showed how Anusha and I explored the complimentary contrasting colours. This last painting used all of the primary colours and their complimentaries. Anusha chose the main colours she wanted to use (out of carmine red, vermillion, lemon yellow, golden yellow, ultramarine blue, and prussian blue), and then surrounded each with it’s complimentary colour.


We then moved on and revisited blends. We worked more on trying to achieve a smooth transition between the two primary colours, here carmine red and ultramarine blue.


Here using lemon yellow and ultramarine blue.


And here using lemon yellow and vermillion.


We then created this page incorporating all the blends. Firstlly we folded our page into thirds and then painted the blends on each panel using prussian blue and lemon yellow, vermillion and lemon yellow, and carmine red and ultramarine blue. We tried to avoid the colours from spreading between the three panels. We also talked about the contrasting coldness and warmth between the neighbouring sections.


Recently we did the following paintings using small and large figures. In this one the smaller, contracted carmine red is surrounded by the serious ultramarine blue, and the red gives the blue a beautiful cape. Both colours lightly surround each other and the contained red is cheered by a small amount of golden yellow. Along the ground the blue and red blend together.


In this painting the larger ultramarine blue grabs hold of golden yellow. Each colour then lightly surrounds each other and blends to form the ground or in Anusha’s painting it became a tree! Carmine red adds some depth to the yellow and also transforms the blue.


We have now nearly completed the grade one painting lessons in Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools and will soon be continuing with the grade two lessons. After our lesson the other day Anusha completed a lovely painting on dry paper,

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I love the bright cheeriness of her picture.


I thought I would also include here a painting that we completed as an activity for the Aesop fable, ‘The Fox and the Grapes’. This was a lesson taken from grade 2 and is told as a colour story. I told Anusha we were not concentrating on the forms in this painting but the relationship of the colours. She is often quite particular about the detail and forms of her drawing and painting, but I think approaching this as a colour story was really beneficial and fun to discover what was arising from the ‘greedy red’ and ‘green dots’.



Wet-on-Wet Watercolour 3, Complimentary colours

Over the past few weeks, following working with red and yellow, we continued with red, creating orange and purple or violet.

Red and yellow make orange 1

In this painting carmine red is painted down from the top, and golden yellow from below. In the middle orange is created (Anusha didn’t succeed very well with creating the gradations of colour in this one) as they happily mix together.

Red and blue make violet 2

Next we created violet. Anusha really enjoyed creating this beautiful colour. We started by painting a hill with carmine red, and then from above, cooling ultramarine blue sinks down from the sky.

Red and blue make violet 3

Again creating a gorgeous shade of violet, we painted a shape in the middle by mixing weaker carmine red (to do this I just tell Anusha not to touch the unmixed stronger paint at the bottom of the jar) with stronger ultramarine blue. Blue then spreads out over the rest of the paper, and red comes in from the edges mixing with the blue to form a violet border.
After working with the three primary colours, and having created the secondary colours, we moved on to paintings with complimentary contrasts.

Complementary exercise 1 red and green 4

The first was the contrast between red and green. In this painting we first painted the whole sheet with lemon yellow, then formed red clouds with carmine and vermillion red. Next we went over the yellow around the clouds, and then added prussian blue to create green.

Complementary exercise 1 blue and orange 5

The second contrast was between orange and blue. We started by making golden yellow clouds on our page, and then added vermillion red to change them to orange. Finally ultramarine blue came along and surrounded the clouds.

king of irelands son 10

Whilst painting over the past few weeks Anusha has started her language/arts block on The King of Ireland’s Son. One of her free paintings that she did was a scene from the story in which the king of Ireland’s son is playing cards with the enchanter of the black back-lands.

Fungi botany 9

Another painting that she did was done after her lesson when I was doing some Botany painting with Elki. This is her painting of fungi, which I really love.

We continued with our contrasting colours paintings. As we did these paintings I talked to Anusha about which of the three secondary colours looked the most beautiful with or ‘answered’ each of the primary colours. She really understood, for example, that violet and green were too much like blue because they had blue in them, so orange was the contrasting colour that answered blue.
In the following three paintings we painted each of the primary colours with their contrasting colour.

Complementary exercise 2 blue orange blue 6

Using ultramarine blue we painted a shape in the centre, surrounded it with orange by blending lemon yellow and vermillion red, and then painted blue in from the edge. We tried to paint the contrasting colours so they would touch but not blend.

Complementary exercise 2 yellow violet yellow 7

Similarly starting with a shape in the centre using golden yellow, we surrounded it with violet by blending carmine red and ultramarine blue, and painted yellow in from the edge.

Complementary exercise 2 red green pink 8

And using carmine red we painted a stronger shape in the centre (by dipping into the lovely red goo at the bottom of the jar), surrounded it with green by blending lemon yellow and ultramarine blue, and painted a softer red in from the edge.

The last painting we have done is of all three of the primary colours with their contrasting colours on the one page.

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Anusha chose which of the paints she wanted to use for the primary colours and the secondary colour blends. We both thought these paintings looked really beautiful.

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Anusha’s free painting for this lesson was a vibrant spiral.

fern botany 13

She has also done a few other paintings with her brother and I for Elki’s botany lessons. I thought this one of ferns was lovely. I better leave it there for today, over the following weeks we are going to work with the complimentary contrasting colours for a little longer and then we’ll be moving onto further blending.




Wet-on-Wet Watercolour 2, Introducing Red

Over the past few weeks Anusha and I have been sharing a painting lesson together, about once a week. Continuing on from the introduction and exploration of yellow and blue, we then moved on to introducing hot, fiery red.

Large blue, small yellow no 1

For the last lesson working on yellow and blue form was added with a tall kingly blue and a small cheeky yellow. The tall blue was first painted in the centre and the small yellow added next to it. The blue then surrounded the yellow to calm it’s cheekiness but the yellow enjoyed this. Blue then encouraged yellow to spread his colour over the page and blend with blue at the bottom.

Free painting no 2

As I mentioned in my last post after we have finished the formal part of the lesson I encourage Anusha to spend time on a ‘free painting’ (she doesn’t actually need any encouragement!). She prefers to do these on dry paper and add more form using a finer brush.

Red no 3

In the next lesson I introduced Red, using Carmine red. Anusha loved to see the red spread over her page. We first painted a light background, using long strokes to cover the page, and then added the intense, fiery ball in the centre, spreading out it’s edges to blend with the background.

Red with cooler surroundings no 4

We then painted red with cooler surroundings. Beginning with yellow coming in from the edges of the paper, and blue moving outwards from the centre, followed by the hot red shape in the middle.

Red with cooler surroundings adding vermillion no 5

Working with cooler surroundings again, red shapes were added to a light green background. In this painting Vermillion red was added to the Carmine red giving it a brightness and cheeriness. The vermillion red really appealed to Anusha.

Free painting (2) no 6

And the painting she did at the end of this lesson. I love how she paints hair, so long and flowing.

Intensifying red no 7

For the following lesson we ‘intensifyed’ the red. This lesson was done in the same way as the first lesson using red, but we added Golden yellow to the red centre at the end.

Red and yellow no 8

Next we worked with red and yellow using a sprial. For this we painted the red spiral first, starting from the outside, and then painted with yellow, starting from the centre. We tried to paint the colours as close together as we could without them blending.

Red and yellow adding blue no 9

Using red and yellow again we started by painting the spiral yellow, moving out from the centre, and then using red painted inwards. To finish we added Ultramarine Blue to the red, creating the lovely purple.

Free painting (3) no 10

Anusha then painted this colourful picture to end our last lesson so far. Next we’ll be creating orange with the red and yellow.

Starting from the beginning – Wet-on-Watercolour 1, Yellow & Blue

This year I have started from the beginning with Wet-on-wet watercolour painting with Anusha. I have always loved wet-on-wet watercolour painting but at times have been unsure how to approach it from the earliest stages of working with primary colours. Originally starting with Elki and now with Anusha, I have approached wet-on-wet watercolour in different ways, sometimes with no direction at all, sometimes with a small amount of direction, and sometimes using stories, poems, other lessons, and imagery, to accompany the lessons.

Over the years I have purchased a couple of books to help with lessons, Painting with Children by Brunhild Muller, which I found helpful as a book to start with when first embarking onĀ  wet-on-wet painting, and Painting in Waldorf Education by Dick Bruin and Attie Lichthart, which I have found to be a beautiful resource but not as practically helpful as what I would like. But recently I bought a book which I am absolutely loving and finding extremely informative and practical, Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools by Thomas Wildgruber. This book goes through the painting and drawing lessons from classes 1 – 8, including other chapters, such as, form drawing and teacher preparation.

I have now started using this book with Anusha, starting at the beginning with class 1. I hope to spend sometime each week throughout the year slowly working through the class 1 lessons.

We began with Yellow. Using a strong citrus yellow, brightening the bottom of the page, and lightening to white at the top of the page.

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Next creating star or sun shapes with citrus yellow, and then adding warmth to their centres with golden yellow.

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I then introduced Blue. Using prussian blue, starting with white at the top of the page, and deepening down to the bottom of the page.

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A free painting by Anusha with blue that we thought looked a lot like a wave.

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We then introduced blue and yellow to each other, firstly the yellow did not want to get too close to blue,

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but then they greeted each other and green started to form. These paintings used the citrus yellow and prussian blue as well. Some golden yellow was added to the citurs yellow at the end to add warmth to the page.

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The next lesson was similar but with yellow shapes dancing across the page and blue surrounding them. Again the blue did not get too close to the yellow,

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but then the yellow was more comfortable with blue and they got to know each other better.

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This was followed by the making of green. Starting with prussian blue at the bottom of the page, we painted up just past half way, then with citrus yellow at the top of the page, we painted down just past half way so the colours could meet and make green together.

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After the ‘formal’ part of our last lesson Anusha created two beautiful paintings on Fabriano watercolour paper that I bought just for ‘special’ paintings. She wanted to paint some pictures of shells, these were done on dry paper.

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And that is where we are up to so far. Soon we will be meeting red!