Achromatic Painting is one of my favorite projects. We bring in a variety of black and white inspiration images, and then set the kids loose to explore the variations in tone and the feeling of the paint on the paper.

Using black and white forces the attention onto the material and tonal aspects of paint on paper. It has a kind of workability that is different from markers and crayons. The strokes of the brush when mixing the colors together create inlets and deltas of color that blend together into grey.

In this case, we splurged and gave each kid their own palette with little dots of black and white. This is a splurge not because we use up more paint, but because we recently shifted to using little tin palettes from the dollar store instead of paper plates.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

When we do primary painting one thing that happens is someone always mixes up all the colors and makes grey. In this case, since grey is the ultimate result, it seemed like a good opportunity to let the Young Artists experiment with the way that paint mixes.

It’s a skill that is harder than it looks. Stopping the mixing when the color is even, versus using the paint with some gradient or stripe still in the mix. You can see those variations in the way the Abstract plunger spots and the door were inspired by the over-saturation of the foam sponge, and the painterly stroke of the mixed grey.