How to Paint my Camouflage Style, for 5 Year Olds

I received a request this weekend from a primary school teacher wanting –


‘to focus on a particular artists art and produce a similar sytle with a school art gallery and parental showcase to promote education through art. I love the camouflage style look with animals and cars and was wondering if you can tell me what  your inspiration is for them and how I can teach the style. Most are 5 year olds.’


So I thought I would write a blog to answer the question as I know from the past that children relate to and love this style of painting. I have never been an art teacher so here is my third ever ‘how to’ blog. (Links to first two   How to Portray Movement in Paintings  and How to do a Truly Terrible Painting and Have a Totally Terrific Time



by Kirsten Harris


  • First decide what you are going to paint? If it is an animal, how many animals are you going to paint in your picture. Are there going to be baby animals hiding amongst the legs of the adults? Or too many fish to count? Get excited about painting, you are creating an adventure.
  • Where does that animal live? Does it live in water, or the forest or amongst long grasses? Or maybe it is a cat or dog camouflaged by the pattern or colour of a sofa or rug? Look outside, can you see any birds hiding in the trees? How are they camouflaged?
  • Choose one main colour for your painting. It can be absolutely any colour you like. What is the one colour that most speaks about that animal to you?
  • Or what is the colour of the place the animal lives? It can be any colour you want to choose.You can choose a colour because it is the main colour of the animal i.e. yellow for giraffes, pink for flamingos or for a mood you think the animal feels. I have done blue, purple and red for elephants and pink leopards. Or it may be the colour of the time of day or the place the animal lives. This is your main colour, so you will need most of it.
  • You want people who look at your painting to see a big block of your chosen colour first, then to see the animal or car or something else that is hiding in your painting.
  • Now make some other colours that are similar to your main colour. If you have chosen blue, how many shades of blue can you make, by mixing other colours with your main colour. Make little puddles or pots of paint. You can use paint, and then crayons or pencils on top when your picture is dry to get more colours and variety. The more shades of one colour the better. Look around the room you are in, you will see lots of different types of blue all around you.
  • If you want to paint lots of blue elephants for example, you may want to team up with a friend and make a big painting with lots of elephants in it.
  • How many different names for the colour you have chosen do you know? There are lots of different names for every colour. You can also make up funny names that describe the colour.  i.e. elephant stomping blue.  One of these colour names might become the title of your painting.
  • Now paint and have lots of fun. Use brush or fingers or flick or dribble paint or sponge your main colour, lots of different patches of the different shades of that colour that you have made. So if the main colour is yellow make the surface of the paper really interesting, kind of messy! Make lots of different types of that colour and lots of different brush marks and textures.  Messy is important. As you paint, think about where your animal is going to start to appear. Any minute you will start to see your camouflaged animals appearing in your picture!
  • Paint the animals in a similar shade to your main colour, not a different colour. So if you have chosen yellow, paint the animal in a slightly darker or lighter yellow, so that it is camouflaged.
  • Sometimes the paint will start to look like an animal on its own and you can turn it into something. It is brilliant when that happens, a bit like join the dots.
  • Let it dry out a bit and flick or paint more paint on the picuture, this time use some different colours, so you get some little specks and details of something different on top of your main colour. You can let the painting dry in-between or you might like it if it runs and the colours bleed together on the paper.
  • Your job as the artist is to make it look as though the animal lives in a really interesting colourful place that you would want to visit and that the animal has somewhere to hide too.
  • If the animal has a pattern on its coat i.e. scales or stripes or spots , you can paint some of the pattern both on the animal and in the background. This will make it look camouflaged.
  • Let flicks of colour be long grass or ripples in the water. Splash a bit more paint on and see what happens. YOU CANNOT GET IT WRONG. That is the magic of art, anything is possible. 
  • To add detail you can chose different contrasting colours. Paint an eye peeking out, a bit of the head, a bit of the body, some legs with a bit more detail. Just enough so you can see the animal, but not so much that it is sitting on top of the background. It has to be hidden and part of the layers of paint.
  • Imagine there are lots of animals hiding in the picture. Can you give the suggestion of more than one animal. You might just paint some more eyes hiding in the trees for example.
    • It is your painting, you can do EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.


( I would advise that you use as good a quality of paint and paper or canvas that you can afford. Children’s art is amazing and free and it always seems a shame that they are given rubbish quality paper, paint and brushes to use! Kids produce masterpieces that can be kept for ever, framed and hung as contemporary art, if only the materials were better at the outset! I have supervised very young children using oil paint on canvas with stunning results.)


Link to my colouring book for children and adults Here 



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