Guest Blogger

Art at the library: Watercolor Salt Painting

I have a confession to make: I’m not a crafty person. There, I admit it.  Whenever I even think about having to go to the local craft store I break out into a sweat. Pinterest overwhelms me. So when my coworker turned to me and said, “We should start a monthly art program,” I thought, of course! We always get a good turnout whenever we do any type of painting activity. Gravity painting? Check. Marble painting? Check. Magnetic painting, fingerpainting, painting little flower pots to look like leprechaun hats? Check, check, and check.

So yes, I am super excited to announce we are starting a monthly art program at our library and we’re gleaning our ideas from the Lab for Kids books. Our first one is from Art Lab for Kids by Susan Schwake called Watercolor Salt Painting. This one seemed easy and fun, so we decided to give it a try.

Materials we used:

  • White cardstock paper
  • Watercolor sets
  • Soft art brushes
  • Newspaper
  • Cups
  • Paper towels
  • Salt

We covered our tables with newspaper and gave every child a piece of cardstock. We handed out the watercolor sets and reminded kids they’d have to share. Each child got their own brush and cup of water. As we handed out the supplies, I asked the kids to think about something they’d like to paint, either a picture of something specific, or maybe they’d just like to experiment with colors. I showed them my example painting, and explained that using darker colors would allow the effects of the salt to really stand out. I also explained that the salt would end up separating the pigment of the paint, so maybe they could make a starry nightscape, clouds in the sky, or, in my example, Snowy Day.

I tried really hard to stress the “less is more” tactic: less water, less salt. “A little goes a long way,” I kept reminding them. Then we let them get to work.

First, we had them lightly brush plain water on their paper. While the paper was still damp, we had the kids start painting their pictures.

Once they had their picture ready, and the paint was still wet, they started sprinkling salt across their painting. Some kids sprinkled salt across their entire painting, while others were more specific in the placement of the salt.

Once their paining was dry, the kids just brushed off the salt with their fingers to reveal the unique texture beneath.

Everyone had a great time! The parents were impressed, the kids were proud, and we were thrilled with the turnout (about 38 people altogether!)  We wanted to do something fun, creative, and simple—and we succeeded. I was also reminded that maybe I am a bit crafty after all.


Today’s guest blogger is Michelle Coxford. Michelle is a Regional Children’s Librarian at the Stanislaus County Public Library system and is based out of the Turlock Library Branch in Turlock, California.  When she’s not stressing out over program planning, or other work-related issues, she’s trying to convince her pre-teen son that she actually get paid to recommend books to kids, and that she really does know what she’s talking about.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at



  1. Dianna Burt

    I LOVE salt painting and I’ve done it with children at my library too and they love it too. Have you tried resist painting with painter’s tape? Kids love putting designs down with the tape and then painting and then after it’s dried take the tape off. All ages love that too.

    1. Michelle Coxford

      Dianna, that sounds awesome! We’re actually planning to do resist painting at an upcoming program later this summer! We’ve never done it before, but thought it’d be fun to try it out. Thank you for the suggestion!

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