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Why I Give My Daughters Separate Paints (& an Announcement)

Mixing Paints

I give my daughters separate paints. Not always. But when I can, I do.

Daphne and Maia are at such different stages on the paint mixing spectrum, that if I don't it just leads to frustration for both of them.

Maia, at seven, is meticulous with her paints. If her paints start out looking like the photo above, they will end looking like the photo above.* She washes her brush between paint colors or uses a different brush.

Mixing Paints 2

Daphne, at three, likes to mix her paints. She does this unintentionally sometimes (sticking the brush that was in the red in the blue next) and quite deliberately other times. While the girls were painting yesterday after school, Daphne dipped her brush into each of her six colors first before applying the paint to her project.

Mixing Paints 3

And then her focus moved from painting her project to completely mixing the paints and turning the paint plate into a new canvas. 

Maia used to do the same thing when she was Daphne's age.

If I don't give the girls separate paints, they drive each other crazy. Maia gets upset about the blue in the red paint and tells Daphne not to mix the paints. Daphne gets upset that Maia is telling her not to do what she wants to do (or just doesn't understand what she did wrong). It does not make for a friendly, sisterly painting session.

I want each of my children to enjoy painting in their own way and at their own stage. And so I give them separate paints as often as possible. 

How about your kids? Are they paint mixers? Or do they keep their paint colors separate?

*Note: Maia likes to mix paints, too, sometimes, but in a different way. She mixes two or more paints together deliberately to achieve a certain color that she doesn't have already.

By the way, heads up my friends…

Tomorrow there will be a special "Pay What You Can" sale on my Autumn Crafts eBook! So check back tomorrow when the book will be priced to fit any budget.





  • Avatar
    Cerys @ Rainy Day Mum
    October 18, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I love this and we do it as well – At 3 and 18 months they are at different levels as well. J is much like Daphne, he will mix and turn the plate/container into a canvas as well. T likes to use her hands at 18 months and it’s too problematic to let them use the same.

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    October 18, 2012 at 8:22 am

    We also do separate paint plates to avoid frustration. I have four children and they like different colors and have different styles. I can always pick out who painted which picture each painted in the end just by knowing these different styles! Space becomes an issue if they have to share and then it’s just a fight over who used most of which colors even if there are huge bottles with more paint sitting right on the table with them!!

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    October 18, 2012 at 8:25 am

    My son is Meticulous but we were painting outside one day and a younger friend came over. We invited him to paint too, but he just mixed all the paints, soon the only colour we had was an army greenish colour. R would have fought with his brother over that buut beacause it was a friend he went along with it. I was miffed because my son usually makes such beautiful paintings, but it was a good lesson to learn….seperate paints!

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    October 18, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I give them seperate paints too,Emma is 3 and Hannah is 20 months,they love painting!!I can’t wait for tommorow!;)

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    October 18, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Mine are only 20 months apart but paint very differently. Giving them their own paint allows me to space them out a little so they can paint in their own exuberant ways. My son loves covering the paper in colours, then using different tools (forks, cars, sponges, paint brushes) to add texture. (Finger paint paper is great for this.) My daughter likes painting pictures of rainbows. The both usually end up mixing all the paint together with their hands and covering their last painting in whatever colour it becomes. We use 8×8 tinfoil pans for painting at the table because of their love of mixing with their hands, as it keeps the majority of the paint in the container.

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    October 18, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Why of course! You wouldn’t want to use someone else’s paint palette, would you? The palette is the start of the creative thinking. I only have my one daughter, but we have always painted together. I’ve learned early on that we need separate tools, palettes and a lot of time, even separate spaces! Very independent, my girl! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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    October 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I always give my girls their own paint on plates . They each have their own set of water colors, too. My 5 year old doesnt mix unless for a desired color. My hree year old ends up mixing everytime but shes just discovering that if ahe mixes just gwo colors shell get another color. We usually only buy primary colors and black and white. Santa is brin!ing an easel to share. Any recommendations?

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    October 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    My boys are exactly the same way. I have always tried to give them separate paints and it makes art time so much nicer.

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    October 18, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    I definitely give my girls separate paints! At ages 5 and 2, they are not on the same page with how they want to use the paint at all. :) But both like to mix–just in different ways.

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    butterlyfly wishes and wonderland dreams
    October 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    my 6 and 12 yr old are on the same page with how the treat paint but it causes less fights and makes paint like you said more enjoyable for all when they have their own paint!

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    Mel Brammer
    October 19, 2012 at 7:56 am

    I mostly give mine a palette to share, (19 months and 3), but as they develop their painting I can see that it will be a good idea to give them separate paints and give them more freedom to use them as they choose.

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