Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wet Chalk Drawings

I found this project on and really enjoyed the entire process. Don't let the website's name fool you, it has lessons for many ages. This was a 4th/5th grade project and took several weeks (but can easily be adapted for other grades too).

I call it chalk painting and tell the kids that they are using chalk to paint their pictures. The process is simple: Students choose different colors of chalk and dip that chalk into white tempera paint and "paint" pictures they have drawn. The chalk and paint together makes a colorful paste and goes on very easily. It takes a bit of getting used to and one can overdo it with the white paint. If the chalk doesn't form a pasty substance when mixed with the paint, the student needs more paint. (Sometimes there's enough white paint already on the paper so remind them to grab it with the chalk and mix it in.) Experiment with this technique and see what works best for you. You want both the chalk color and the white paint to show. It gives a very soft look (these pictures really don't do it justice - too much reflection when I scanned them). I hadn't thought of trying other colors of paint along with the white (like a brown for the window shelf) but that might be worth trying).

We used light-brown colored construction paper but other colors would work well too. Construction paper is best as it is stronger than plain white paper.

First the students drew the vase/flowers/fruit/curtains in pencil and then outlined them in black permanent marker. Finally the students painted their
pictures using colored chalk and tempera paint. Most students re-outlined in black marker after the paint had dried. If students are careful, they can avoid this step by not painting over the black lines.

In the pre-lesson for this project we talked about balance, design, background, overlapping, and how to use the surface of a paper to create depth. Much more could be said but I left it at that. The tricky part I found was getting the students to understand the importance of placement of the vase and the flowers. The end picture is supposed to look like a vase of flowers sitting on a window shelf with curtains pulled to both sides. Pictures were not flaky or powdery.

The lesson can be found here.

A gallery of more student work is here. I would love to hear your comments or questions.


  1. If one used chalk pastels I am sure you would get even stronger colours. I am sure to try this when I go back to school after the autumn break

  2. I'd be curious to see how it goes. Let me know!

  3. We did this as a impressionist/post impressionist leson with landscapes. I used crayola's colored chalk. It's messy, but the results are so cool. I'm amazed at the results your students got...very different "look" than what mine did. I don't have pics of it...haven't done this lesson for a few years(before I started blogging). Maybe I should pull this one out of retirement and try it again!

  4. Thanks for your comment Mr. E. At the momment we're in the middle of a collage project and it's soooo messy. But I'm happy the kids are having fun and learning a lot about collage. One more whole group - grade level specific - collage project and then I'm bringing back my individual stations.

  5. These drawings are beautiful.
    Elegant lines and soft colors.