Collage Play, Outer Space, Paint Play

Astronaut Portrait

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A young astronaut gazing at the universe in awe

This is a great project to do with littles, all the way up to big kids. You can differentiate to accommodate a wide range of ages. I think teenagers would even enjoy this process, making this perfect for all of you parents at home with multiple ages of kiddos.

Mr. 3.5 made this imaginative space portrait over the course of about a week, with four different project stages: wet on wet painting, wet on dry painting, crayon, and collage.

Damp watercolor paper taped to a table with jars of watercolor paint and brushes


  • 3-5 watercolor paint colors thinned with water (we chose black, dark blue and white)
  • Watercolor paper taped to table
  • 3-5 jars to hold watery paint (each with its own brush)
  • Crayons for drawing on top of the painting when it’s dry
  • Prepared by adult ahead of time (depending on age/skill level of artist): A photo cutout of your little astronaut and a photo cut out of an astronaut, cut and glued together

Step One: Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting

Wet on wet watercolor painting is a method used in Waldorf schools around the world that allows the artist to experience color without focusing on line and shape. The wet paint dances across the wet paper beautifully as the young artist leads its movement. To use this method, simply dampen the watercolor paper with a sponge prior to applying watery watercolor paint.

Little artist painting with wet watercolor paint on a wet paper
Wet on wet painting

Step Two: Wet on Dry

Wet paint applied to the dry first layer offers a whole new interesting experience of the same colors, this time with sharper lines and more defined textures.

Wet paint on top of dry first layer

Step Three: Crayon/Colored Pencil

The final layer before adding the child’s picture can bring the child’s imaginative play into view. Ask your child questions about what they are drawing in their spacescape while they work to feed their play narrative.

Step Four: Position the Astronaut

Have your child decide where their astronaut self should be placed, and watch them glue their astronaut self into the spacescape if they have the skills to do so. They will enjoy seeing themselves imagined as an astronaut in the spacescape they have created

Process Over Product

Art play for children is about the process, not the product. When your child is “done”, the paper could look different than you envisioned it would. Celebrate their process for what it is.

This little guy had so much fun imagining SPACE while he created this work. His astronaut self is hanging above his bed, now, so he can sail off to dreamland wondering what it would be like to travel amongst the stars and planets.

I hope your space lovers enjoy this one as much as we did. Have fun!

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