As Pablo Picasso once said, every child is an artist. Kids are naturally inquisitive and always want to try different things, artistically or otherwise, and letting your children get hands-on with art is important to their development. Not only does encouraging their creativity give you an opportunity to spend some quality time together, but research shows it can help with their social and emotional development.
To help you encourage your kids to nurture their skills, we have outlined three art projects that you can try at home. Each of these takes inspiration from the greats of the art world. Try these projects with your kids to get their creative juices flowing, foster their artistic ability, and have fun-filled family time together.
1. Splatter and drip art
Kids love getting messy, and it is for that reason that splatter and drip painting is a firm favourite amongst children.
You will need:
- Paint brushes (optional)
- Tins of paint
- Plain clothing (optional)
How to do it: One of the most fun, energetic, and unpredictable painting techniques,splatter artconsists of dipping a brush into paint before flicking your wrist to splatter the paint across your canvas of choice. The technique is often paired with drip art, where paint is dripped or poured directly onto a canvas. The brilliance of these techniques is that they can be done on cardboard or paper of any size, or even onto plain clothing to create some funky looking outfits. It’s popular with both kidsand adults. You just know you’ll want to get involved yourself!
Who made it famous: Splatter and drip art were made famous by the American abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, who started using the techniques around the mid 1930’s. Soon nicknamed “Jack the Dripper”, Pollock would set out a canvas either on the floor or against a wall and splatter paint onto it, or allow paint to drip directly from the paint can. The technique is considered one of the most radical abstract styles in art history.
Pollock’s impact is still prevalent today, with many contemporary artists heavily influenced by his work. For example, Ian Davenport’s poured linesseries is reminiscent of Pollock’s work, yet it still features his own unique style. Each of the paintings in the series were produced by using a syringe to squirt paint onto aluminium, giving the final effect of a vivid assortment of different coloured stripes.
2. Screen printing
Another art project that you can get kids involved in is screen printing, which involves stenciling an image onto a screen to be reproduced several times on different canvases or surfaces. This is especially useful for printing a drawing onto material, such as clothing, enabling children to design their own outfits. Kids will love going beyond using a paintbrush and paper and being more creative in their artwork.
You will need:
- A screen print frame
- A shower squeegee
- Ink (fabric ink if using fabric)
- Screen printing film
- Masking tape
- Printmaking paint
- A knife
- Intermediate (plenty of assistance is required)
How to do it: In order to make a print screen, the youngsters will first need to paint an image onto paper. This should be a simple image to draw and cut out, such as the outline of an animal or a love heart. Then, they’ll need to tape down the image onto a cutting surface and overlay clear screen printing film on top and tape this into place. Next, they should cut out the image on the film using a knife (you can do this for them if they’re very young), and place the cutout onto a frame, securing it with masking tape. The image needs to be stuck down in reverse so that when you flip it over the print it is the right way around.
Your kids are now ready to print. To do this, they’ll need to centre the screen onto the canvas or clothing that they’re printing onto. Then, your youngsters will have to use ink to cover the entire area of the frame using a squeegee, making sure they go over the stencil area 3-4 times. This ensures that the ink is pushed through the shape that has been cut out and onto the canvas. Finally, simply pull off the frame, wait for it to dry, and voila, they have made a screen print!
Who made it famous: Although print screening dates back over 1,000 years to the Song Dynasty era of China, it was most famously employed by Andy Warhol, who began experimenting with the technique in the 1960’s. His approach was similar to the one outlined above, and due to its efficiency, Warhol could create multiple versions of an image with several different colour compositions. One of his first—and most famous—screen printed images was his Marilyn Monroe print, which inspired him to create a range of other portfolios. Another prolific printmaker was American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, who used the technique for much of his work, such as his famous comic strip ‘Sweet Dreams, Baby!’ and ‘Whaam!’ prints.
3. Line drawing
Finally, a simple technique that can really help to improve little ones’ creative skills is line drawing.
You will need:
- Paint or pencils
How to do it:There are a number of ways that children can line draw. There’s continuous line drawing, which is simply drawing without lifting the pencil from the page. By continuing to move the pencil back and forth across the paper the final artwork will be a free-flowing, unbroken line. This method fosters confidence, and helps develop hand-eye coordination.
Another line drawing method that kids can try is blind contour drawing. This method involves drawing a subject in a steady, continuous line without actually looking down at the paper. This forces the drawers to study a scene closely, and again strengthens hand-eye coordination.
Who made it famous: Many famous artists have explored line drawing throughout history, from Leonardo Da Vinci to Tracey Emin. Another artist who is famous for using a line drawing technique is Ian Sklarsky, who makes use of the blind contour method, creating masterpieces using pen, ink, and watercolour.
Anna Marikar, mum of four and seasoned blogger, has spent over a decade sharing her parenting journey and passion for kid-friendly crafts and free printables.
Her easy-to-follow craft ideas and practical parenting advice have transformed In The Playroom into a cherished resource for parents.