Automatic Paint & Draw

Year Levels: 4 – 6

with Kylie Wickham

Automatic Paint & Draw Banner Web 800x500

Click Here to download Lesson Plan



In this lesson, students will explore line, shape and pattern whilst using the medium of watercolour. Students will experiment with different techniques: automatic drawing, playful mark making, layering, and transparency.
Using mixed media in artworks enhances student knowledge of combining different materials and mixing techniques.

*This is a lesson to relax to and have fun. Students should work while relaxing music is played.
Note that Play is important and often the best learning comes from building experience and making mistakes.


Art Elements & Principles

Shape, Colour, Pattern, Line



Transparency, Automatic, Continuously, Process, Instinctive, Spontaneously, Fuchsia, Cerulean, Cobalt, Turquoise, Magenta


Cross-Curriculum / Capabilities Links

Language, Maths


Learning Objectives

Students will:

Explore watercolour, using different brushes, amounts of water, dropping and dripping, layering and overlapping.

Explore brush and tip metallic pens and the marks they can make.

Make work that is subject to state of mind. What happens to our art when we relax and mix it with relaxing music?

Consider colour. Play with your colours dropping, dripping and brushing different combinations.



Create Artwork

Automatic Paint & Draw Panel Paint1 4 800x192

Step 1: Take an A4 sheet of Watercolour Paper (or Cartridge Paper). Fold diagonally from one corner to the opposing edge. Cut away excess paper to create a square piece of paper to work on.

*This is optional, and only if you want to work on a square format. You are welcome to work on A4 as-is.

Step 2: Play relaxing music to listen to whilst working.

Step 3: Take wide brush dipped in clean water. Paint a “wet shape” onto your paper. You can make any shape you want; a spiral, symbol or organic shape.

Step 4: Wet the watercolour palette with water on a clean brush. Start with the lightest colour, gently rubbing the brush into the colour and apply to your wet paper.
Start by simply making a few marks.

Step 5: Next, clean your brush and choose the next lightest colour, and repeat.
Experiment with applying paint in different ways. For example, try;


  • Wet on wet (wet paint on wet paper)
  • Wet on dry (wet paint on dry paper)
  • Lots of water (lighter colour / more transparent)
  • A Little bit of water (darker colour / stronger pigment)
  • Different mark-making and paint strokes: Use lines, or drop blobs of colour on top of wet paint, or on top of dry paint
  • Overlapping two different colours


Step 6: Keep adding paint, moving through colours in our palette from lightest to darkest/boldest, until all your wet shape is completely filled in. Set aside to dry.
Automatic Paint & Draw Metallic On Black 500x500
Step 7: While waiting for paint to dry, take your metallic pens and a piece of black paper. Change your music if you like, and draw as many different lines, shapes, patterns as you can think of whilst listening to the music and keeping a relaxed state of mind.

This is often referred to as automatic drawing or doodling.

It is important to remember that it does not matter what you draw – just let it flow!

Automatic Paint & Draw Final 500x500
Step 8: Now take your fully dried watercolour painting and apply your automatic drawing skills using the metallic pens over the top of your colourful painting.

*If you don’t have metallic pens you can use white or colourful Gel Pens, or just a black marker or fineliner will be fine.




Taking it a Step Further…

Why not make a series of paintings? Aim for a series of four, six – or even nine!
Try different sized paper. How does the experience and outcome change when working on a larger or smaller scale?


Discussion / Reflection



  • Did you discover any new colours within overlapped sections?
  • Can you describe your favourite effects using paint and explain how you achieved this?
  • Do you understand what automatic drawing is?
  • How do you feel about your artwork?



Materials & Equipment


  • Watercolour Paper / Pad *(alternatively you can use a good Cartridge Paper)
  • Watercolour Paints
  • Variety of Brushes
  • Aqua Flow Brushes *(optional)
  • Metallic Pens & Markers *(recommended: Dual Tip Metallic Markers)
  • Scissors
  • Black Paper


Don’t have these materials at home?
Click Here to view recommended materials



Related Artwork, Links & Sources