An open studio setting in a kindergarten day 3 – The Painting Wall

An open studio setting in a kindergarten day 3 – The Painting Wall

 What is the significance of the painting wall as a tool for an educator or therapist?

It is an essential, powerful instrument that encourages independence and investigations in any studio for all ages. Painting while standing on one’s own feet is literally a physical metaphor for so much more than just doing art.

The painting wall is a tool created by Arno Stern.



Being such a vital tool, I see it as the cornerstone of the studio, and thus the first thing to choose when organizing a studio space. The rest of the furniture divisions, work benches, etc., will be organized as an outcome of this primary choice. It is best to select the largest wall possible, preferably well-lit by good daylight. It should also be a wall that has enough space for the artists to be able to walk backwards to see the art from afar.



These images are from the first morning the painting wall began to function.  Almost all the children were extremely interested in it, and many of them created more than one piece of work.

Here are the minimal verbal instructions that began this process on our first morning:

A child who wanted to work wore an apron.

-Which paper would you like to work on?

This means the child chose both paper and space.

-What will your first color be?

Again, another encouragement for personal choice.

– I will show you now how you take the paint on the brush and on to the wall.

– Which brush of the two do you prefer?

[A thin one and a wider one]  

I demonstrate how to wipe the tip of the brush so it will not drip on its way to the wall.

Each child tried this once with me, and put back the brush into its color.

I said this out loud: Now that you are working as grown children in a studio, please notice your friends around you and try not to smear paint on a friend on your way back and forth from the paint box to your paper.



– When you are done,  please let me know and I will show you how we finish the session.

A five years-old girl says she is done.

– Good, let us look at your painting from afar, as artists do. Please listen to your painting with your heart. Can you hear it saying to you if it needs more lines or color marks? Anything wants to join in? Please listen carefully if it needs anything else or is it done.  



These are all the “instructions” needed.

Within one day, they all went through the process, also assisting each other, giving suggestions and learning together.

I even suggested they change the water independently when they felt it is needed!

But it is glass, it can break! 

– It can fall and break, but I believe you are responsible enough to do it.


A Painting Wall: a wall covered in plywood. Paper of any size can be hung on it using thumbtacks or staples. The wall is covered from floor to ceiling. A table or cart is placed next to the wall, holding the paints, brushes, rags, sponges, etc. Work is done standing up, allowing the creator to come close or move far away at different points of the work, serving as a one-time mirror of herself as she is creating. A painting wall encourages drama and expressiveness through deep and comprehensive processes. The large wall enables the creator to work on a number of pieces simultaneously, or several people may work individually as well as together as a group, on the same wall. A painting wall is not limited to working with wet materials. It serves well as a substrate for sketching, charcoal, pencil and pastels. It is a dynamic platform, as opposed to the studio’s other, quieter corners for more introverted work. An Individual Work

Orbach Nona & Galkin Lilach. The Spirit of Matter – A Database Handbook for Therapists, Artists and Educators (Kindle Locations 216-223). 

More posts from this kindergarten here  and here.

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