Getting Messy: The Art of Making Art with Kids



Art has been an integral part of human societies since the days of cave paintings. We see art displayed everywhere; in our museums, our schools, our magazines, even our homes. As much as we love enjoying art, creating art adds an entirely new level of appreciation and culture to our lives. Here are three projects that vary in difficulty and messiness—starting with the least and ending with the most. All of these can be done at home, though it is recommended the second two be done outdoors, unless you are aiming for a Jackson Pollock-themed living room.

Beginner

Negative Space Canvas:

Supplies:

  • Pre-stretched canvas or canvas board
  • Acrylic or poster paint (Poster paint can crack on canvas when dry, but this can create a fun effect)
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint palette / paper plate / recycled egg carton – some type of vessel to put the paint in
  • Painter’s tape or vinyl stencil (from a vinyl cutter)

Steps:

  • If you are using a vinyl cutter, decide what design you want to use and follow your machine’s instructions on cutting it out. This is a great opportunity to use fun fonts to write out children’s names or funny sayings like, “In this house, we chase dreams and dragons” and, “Wash your hands: only you can prevent the zombie apocalypse.”
  • If you are using painter’s tape, place it on the canvas in whatever pattern you want. This could look like something (a flower, or a letter), or it could be completely abstract. Make sure to press the edges down to prevent paint bleeding.
  • Paint the entire canvas! This is where you really get to be creative and put in patterns or mix up colors. Really just get crazy and have fun.
  • When the canvas is mostly dried, but still slightly gummy, remove the stencils or painter’s tape and enjoy your brand-new piece of art!

Intermediate

Splatter-Paint Canvas:

Supplies:

  • Pre-stretched canvas or canvas board
  • Acrylic or poster paint (Poster paint can crack on canvas when dry, but this can create a fun effect)
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint palette / Paper plate / Recycled egg carton (to put the paint in)
  • Drop cloth
  • Protective eye wear
  • Paint clothes

Steps:

  • Place your drop cloth outside in a space where you don’t mind if the paint expands a bit (TIP: not next to your brand new car or house!).
  • Place your canvas in the center of the drop cloth. Depending on how you want to work, you can decide to prop it up– but use caution, as this can cause the paint to go further outside of your drop cloth.
  • Pick a few paint colors and put them in your choice of palette.
  • Dip your brush in the paint and, leaving a glob of paint on the brush, throw it toward the canvas, keeping the brush in your hands.
  • If you have traditional craft paint, you can also squirt the paint directly from the bottle onto the canvas.
  • For smaller drops of paint, place the paintbrush parallel to the canvas and hit the handle with another paint brush.
  • Keep going on this until it feels done.

Advanced

Paint Balloon Explosion

Supplies:

  • Pre-cut wood or Plywood panel
  • Acrylic paint
  • Spray paint
  • Painter’s tape
  • Balloons
  • Reusable silicone straw
  • Thumbtacks or Staple gun
  • Darts
  • Drop cloth
  • Something to prop art piece on
  • Protective eye wear
  • Paint clothes

Steps:

  • Prep balloons
    • Place a quarter-size amount of paint into a balloon.
    • Using a reusable silicon straw, blow up and tie the balloon.
  • Prep panel
    • Cover the panel with spray paint and allow to dry.
    • Create a border (1″-3″) with painter’s tape.
  • Attach the balloons using either thumbtacks for softer woods, or staple gun for harder woods. Be very careful during this step, especially when using a staple gun, to avoid premature balloon explosions!
  • Prop your art piece against something to keep it upright and start throwing those darts! When all of the balloons have been exploded, remove the balloon pieces and allow it to dry prior to removing the painter’s tape to prevent stray paint drippings.
  • Final step for all:
  • On the back of all art pieces, make sure to add the name of the artist and the year—for children, add how old they were and what they decided to name the piece.
  • Hang in your home and enjoy!

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