The most useful paper for children’s painting is sugar paper, although old makeshift measures such as newsprint, wallpaper, kitchen rolls, offcuts from printers plus the newer used computer paper, may be necessary at times.

Providing large sizes of paper became popular partly as a result of observing the large movements children make when painting, partly because the type of brush and paint offered need a large area and partly as a rebellion against the niggardly provision most adults remember from their own school days. Now that this practice is firmly established perhaps we can afford to sit back and wonder if children need a large piece of paper every time for everything they do. Some children might perhaps prefer a small piece occasionally and some activities which are rather different from ‘straight’ painting would be better on a smaller-size background.

Sugar paper is available in different sizes and colours. The best size to have is one which fits the easel. A small amount of a larger size is useful for different projects but to have to cut large paper to size for a staple activity is very time-consuming and awkward because the pieces are so big. Some sugar papers come in very soft shades and basic ranges contain as many as eight different colours besides black and white. Others come in very bright colours. For children’s paintings a dead white is rather harsh and even some of the soft colours tend to detract from the colour of the paint. An off-white or buff seems to be the best choice but children enjoy a change and smaller quantities of coloured paper could be provided. Black can be very exciting if the paints are mixed with plenty of white to give light shades. The very brightly coloured papers are perhaps better saved for activities other than painting. In any case they are more expensive and therefore extravagant to use in any great quantity.