Art with Kids: Watercolor Circle Paintings

by mari

DIY Watercolor Circle Paintings for Kids -Kandinsky Art Inspiration

I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been for this very day. We have a new contributor at Small for Big, and she’s such a perfect fit. Please welcome Bar, who also writes the inspiring Art Bar Blog. She’ll be sharing some great art and diy projects – this first one is such a stunner. I know Bar will fit in just fine around here when I read a quote like this:  “My goal for my own children is to create memories of a home filled with art, music, books, crafts, games, baking, singing, dancing, dress-up, movie night, dog hair, cartwheels, fireflies, kisses, hugs, tooth fairies and smoothies.” Hear, hear, and AY-men! Take it away Bar…

When I think of circle paintings, the Russian painter Kandinsky comes to mind. His painting, Concentric Circles, is studied and duplicated in many an elementary art class. It’s a rich lesson that includes a discussion about abstract art, and the chance to experiment with color and shape. Recently, we set up our own circle-painting project. The results were maginfique!

Here’s how I set up this project: Using oversized watercolor paper, 15 x 22 inches, I lightly drew a grid with a pencil and ruler. I ended up with 24 squares at 3.5 inches each. Next, I mixed up some liquid watercolors, which are super vibrant and just gorgeous. You can choose to paint with the whole rainbow, or stay more monochromatic (we tried both). I gave them each a clean jar of water and a damp sponge. Lastly, I gave them just one direction – draw a circle in each box, making sure to touch all the sides of the square (a great mini-geometry lesson). I encouraged them to go heavy on the paint so that the circles could blend. They loved this part the best! Watching the colors seep into each other was quite magical.

We also experimented with smaller paper, 9 x 12 inches. I think the kids could have painted these circles for hours! Most of the time, I promote open-ended art at home whereby the kids can just create without any restrictions or pre-conceived outcomes. But every once in a while it’s nice to create a little lesson. It’s especially nice when the lesson is for all ages. These paintings were made by kids ages six to thirteen. Oh, and PS…grown-ups can make these, too!


{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica April 22, 2013 at 8:41 am

Love these – can’t wait to try them! Always looking for a new way to get creative.


2 Miz Big April 23, 2013 at 10:29 am

Wonderful! Let us know how they turn out!


3 PJ April 22, 2013 at 8:49 am

These are so pretty!


4 Miz Big April 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

I think you should make some now while you wait for your little to grow into the project! ;)


5 Bar April 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for having me, Mari!! Can’t wait to share more with your readers :)


6 Miz Big April 23, 2013 at 10:31 am

No Bar, thank YOU! I can’t wait either!


7 Rebekah @ the Golden Gleam April 22, 2013 at 8:31 pm

So beautiful! My kids love watercolors and I am always looking for new ways to explore math through math and art. This is perfect for that!


8 Rebekah @ the Golden Gleam April 22, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Oops, made a typo. What I meant to say is that I am looking for ways to explore math through art and play. =)


9 Miz Big April 23, 2013 at 10:31 am

That’s such a great point Rebekah!


10 Esther April 26, 2013 at 6:06 am

I’ve done a circle project at my art class (5-6 years-old) last month at a collaborative mural, and It was fantastic experience. We first painted circles with one color each kid, and they pass the paper to other until all the kids paint in every paper, so at the end the resoult was lots of colours made by lots of kids. And anothe exercise was all the kids painting with circles in a mural. Beautifil and fun! Yo can check it here:


11 mari April 27, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Wow, Esther, the results are beautiful!


12 Isobel June 17, 2013 at 8:10 am

I used to to run a small art center for kids. We did this idea in class and my little messy monkeys had a fantastic time. I am now at home concentrating on being a new mom but I can’t wait until my little one is ready to dive into the wonderful world of art!


13 mari June 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm

That’s amazing! I remember feeling the same way when my girl was a baby, and now she’s finally grown into a super-crafty kid. It’s exhilarating – you’ll love it!


14 Jess September 12, 2013 at 9:01 am

I was searching for activities for people with develomental disabilities to do and this seems perfect. I will be sure to send along our outcome. Thanks so much for the idea. Jess


15 Bar September 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm

thank you jess! what a wonderful idea. please do send along any photos to me at xo


16 Jeanine March 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Absolutely gorgeous


17 Miz Big March 2, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Thank you!


18 Lyn August 3, 2014 at 6:27 pm

When you say that you “mixed up some liquid water color paint”, did you dilute the paints (to what ratio/how watery)?
Thanks!! Trying this next week with the kiddos :)


19 Bar August 3, 2014 at 8:23 pm

hey lyn, so glad you are going to do this!! i did not dilute, just mixed colors. i made an olive, a teal, rhubarb, and also put gold in some of the colors. hope this helps! xx bar


20 Lyn August 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Great! Thanks for the directions :)


21 Shez April 24, 2015 at 3:24 am

so colourful! what a fun project to brighten any room .. gorgeous!


22 Raising Creative Children August 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm

We love the way the circles can blur and blend into each other as well as the connection to Kandinsky – given his links to music, we would really enjoy creating some combined music and art projects with this idea!


23 mari August 5, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Great ideas – I love the idea of combining music and art!


24 Alicia July 25, 2016 at 1:48 pm

I love these and can’t wait to try it with my kiddos. I think it would also work wonderfully with regular large white paper (even white construction paper has good absorbancy, though there would be a slightly different result) and regular watercolors, for those without the budget for fun but pricey liquid watercolors and watercolor paper. :)

Just a heads up– I clicked on the links for the watercolor paper and paints, and was taken to the Dick Blick website. They have tags as affiliate links so I looked at the affiliate program to see if it was something that would be a good fit for my own blog. In reading the legal terms, there seem to be some important legal disclosures missing from Art Bar’s post here and I wouldn’t want her blog or yours to get in trouble for it. I’m not sure if the affiliate links are hers or yours but I got the impression they were hers. The legal contract on Dick Blick says that affiliates are prohibited from using affiliate links on third party blogs and also must disclose that they are affiliated with Dick Blick’s affiliate program when using affiliate links. I looked for a contact form here just to give you a private heads up but didn’t see one, so I thought I’d let you know here in the comments just in case it mattered.

Off to explore your lovely blog!


25 mari July 26, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Hi Alicia!
Thanks for the heads up, much appreciated!!!


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30 Frances September 26, 2016 at 9:47 pm

do you think I could do this project with 4yr olds?


31 mari September 27, 2016 at 11:10 am

Yes I do! Their circles won’t be as perfect, and they may not want to stay in the lines/grid, but the results will be unique to them – and that’s part of the beauty of it! I recommend doing your own painting at the same time, it helps them see what kind of outcome they’re looking for. (though sometimes mine would get frustrated when it didn’t turn out the same, so judge your child’s temperament too)


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