Lesson Objectives: Students will learn about color and the controlled use of watercolor.

Time Required:  1 session

Artist:  Paul Klee, Once Emerged From the Gray of Night, 1918 (available online)




Watercolor paper taped to cardboard and divided into 1-inch squares

(consider cutting down the size of the paper because this project takes a long time)

Scratch paper




Water and cups

Paper towels

Presentation:    Show Paul Klee’s painting. He has written his poem in German, but because he painted in the spaces between the lines of the letters, it’s almost hidden. Demonstrate how to make the capital letters using the lines of the squares.


  1. Pass out watercolor paper. Write names on tape. Orient horizontally.
  2. On scratch paper, have students write their message. The possibilities for this are endless: they could write various personality traits that define them, famous quotes, a poem they’ve written, etc. They’ll have to make sure their message will fit within the grid, including spaces between words.
  3. When they’re ready, write the message in crayon, using the grid lines as guides. (See example.)
  1. Using very little water, select one watercolor and paint in several squares not adjacent to each other. Using less water will help keep the watercolor contained within the squares. Staggering the squares allows for 2 things: a) lets the color dry so it won’t bleed when you paint the adjacent square; and b) helps create a random pattern of color.
  2. Paint around some of the letters too.
  3. Switch to another color and paint several more squares randomly on the page.
  4. Continue in this manner until every square is filled.