How to Use Tempera Powder Paints

Updated April 17, 2017

With its selection of bright, primary colours and ease of mixing, Tempera powder paint is an ideal medium for young children and for older students who are experimenting with colour theory. It's nontoxic, and spills are easily cleaned up with a cloth and cold water.

Measure out the Tempera powder paint into a plastic container using any measuring spoon. How much you need depends on the size of the project and how many people will be using the paint. Be conservative with your estimate; if you mix too little, you can easily make more, but if you make too much, it may go to waste. Use a container with a lid if possible.

Add an equal amount of water to the Tempera powder. For example, if you used 2 tbsp of paint, add 2 tbsp of water. Allow to stand for several minutes to give the powder a chance to absorb the water.

Mix the water and Tempera powder together thoroughly to form a creamy paint mixture without lumps.

Use paintbrushes, sponges or fingers to paint on your paper.

Mix several drops of dishwashing liquid with cold water; stir the brushes after use in the soap solution to clean them.


Baby-food jars or washed margarine tubs make good mixing and storing containers. Tempera powder paint is also suitable for use as a finger paint. Mix different-coloured powders to create original shades and colours. Make a thicker paint by adding less water, or use more water to make a thin colour wash. Alter the texture of the paint by mixing a little sand in with the paint.


Give children an apron or an old shirt to wear over their clothes while painting. Tempera powder paints can stain fabrics. Remove paint from clothes by soaking in cold water with a detergent. Soak stubborn stains overnight.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic container
  • Measuring spoon
  • Sticks for mixing
  • Water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Sponges
  • Dishwashing liquid
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Deborah Jones started her freelance writing career in 1990. Her work has appeared in The Writer's Forum, "Reader's Digest" and numerous D.C. Thomson magazines. Jones has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and a postgraduate certificate in education, both from the University of Derby.