Scrape and squeegee paintings are wonderful art activites. As toddler’s are growing and searching for new experiences, they really like exploring a wide range of materials which is the perfect time to introduce squeegees, brayers, rulers, squeezing paint, and mixing colors. Art projects like this will support your toddler’s growing independence while also lending themselves to beautiful creations. All materials can be handled easily which will empower your children to create, make their own choices and find satisfaction in doing so without major help from you.
With a brush you have control. The paint goes on the brush and you make the mark. With the squeegee you lose control. The paintings do what they want. Gerhard Richter
Before creating our own squeegee paintings we studied some of the large scale paintings by German artist Gerhard Richter who often uses a giant squeegee to create his art. The children watched how he pulls his squeegee through various layers of paint, uncovering new colors underneath and liked hearing the scraping and scratchiness of his tools in the video here. This could be a fantastic large scale, multi-step project for older kids as well!
We’ve created a simple group squeegee painting as well as smaller individual scrape paintings. We were mesmerized by how the colors mixed, and loved adding glitter, stickers, tissue papers and our own cut paper scraps at the end.
- Trays, a cookie sheet or (paper) plates
- Watercolor paper (or any sturdier paper like construction paper)
- Tempera paint (in squeeze bottles)
- Masking Tape
- Paper roll (or packing paper or kraft paper roll)
- Squeegees and scrape tools (old credit cards, cardboard, rulers)
- Brayer or foam brush
- Optional: Tissue paper shapes, shape stickers, glitter
Step 1: Warm up
Tape a big butcher paper on a tarp and invite your children to squeeze some paint drops, lines and squiggles all over the paper. My group loved squeezing and pouring the paint! Hand out squeegees and pull them through the paint. Encourage mixing and layering different colors, adding more paint as needed.
Group painting is a wonderful activity for any classroom to discuss and practice sharing techniques as well as collaboration (asking for turns with the squeeze bottles and for others to respect your space or to paint in the same spot on the paper etc.).
Step 2: Set-up
Additionally, set up everything for individual scrape paintings beforehand. I filled a few printing trays with paint and set out paint rollers for each color. On another table I set out the squeeze bottles and taped a paper on a tray for each child. I prepared additional papers with masking tape, creating a “frame” for each paper. At the time I didn’t have trays, so we simply strung some rope to the legs our tables and clipped cloth pins to the rope. This enabled us to attach our papers for our scrape painting and the children liked how easily they could switch out their papers themselves.
Step 3: Create a background
Squeeze a small amount of paint onto a printing tray and show how to roll it back and forth with a brayer. Once the brayer is evenly coated with paint, take it to your paper and roll over it to transfer the paint. This is how you create a background for your scrape painting. Limit the color choices to just a few and let the children choose one color only. I chose pink, yellow and a lighter blue for the children to pick from.
Before applying paint we also experimented with adding stickers to some of our papers. Some children would peel them off later once their papers were dry (paint-resist look) while others left them in place (extra design detail).
Step 4: Scrape the paint
Show your children how to squeeze little drips of different colors to the top of their papers, then pull and scrape the paint down with a ruler (or any other scrape tools you are using).
The children very much liked the physical motion and sensory feedback of squishing and scraping the paint and each child asked for a second or third paper to create a new scrape painting, experimenting with different colors and different directions to scrape the paint.
We also sprinkled some glitter on the wet paint and pressed some tissue paper shapes into it.
Once dry, we removed the tape and admired our creations. We think they belong in a museum, don’t you :)?
We were also debating what to do with our group squeegee painting. The children decided to leave it as a whole to display in our room and didn’t want to cut it into individual pieces. They also suggested to add our left over stickers and since we have a container with scrap scissor papers they spontaneously decided to glue those on as well. One half of the children happily cut shapes, practicing their scissors skills, while the other half of the group went on to glueing. Such teamwork!