Kids Get Arty – Exploring Street Art & Banksy

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Welcome back to Kids Get Arty – where every 2 months, we explore an artists, learn about what they do and have a go ourselves. Here we are looking at the British contemporary street artists, Banksy. Now I know that this is a little controversial. Afterall, street art (and graffiti) is illegal and often associated with gangs and gang violence. However, as with Banksy, there is often some real art and skill involved and the artists is making a political or social statement, rather than inciting gang issues. (Read all about the day out and Exploring Banksy here)

The NEXT Kids Get Arty challenge and link up will be on 14th November 2012. Find an Artist. Explore an Artist. And GET ARTY!!!

Exploring Banksy With Kids. Exploring Great Artists with Kids. How do you teach kids about street art.

This post was first published in Sept 2012 and has been republished for your convenience!

Banksy – Child Labour

I have long been a fan of street art – amazed at the detail that can be achieved with a spray cans and on a large scale – and often in the dark!

Street art is found in most major cities all over the world. New York probably being  the best place for exploring Street Art, followed by Berlin in Germany (who will ever forget the Berlin wall, however street art there is now much much more than “just” the remnants of the wall) and of course London, UK. Here is a FANTASTIC article all about street art across the world. From Melbourne to Cape Town. From São Paulo to Tehran. Gosh, it makes me want to jump on a plane and explore it all!

Back to our street art today.

I spent a day exploring Banksy’s street art in London, with fellow blogger Me and My Shadow, as well as our girls (Red Ted was visiting Granny). It was a great, but long day. We saw a lot of Banksy’s art, as well as a number of other UK artists, such as Stewy and Otto Schade (Osch).

Exploring Banksy & Co

banksy london

Banksy – Prison Guard – Biscuit Break

How did the kids and I look at this? With Pip Squeak the day was more about discovery. What could we find. What could we see. Where was it. What colours did we find. Who could see something new. Brick Lane and Shoreditch (London, UK) were a street art tourist’s delight. With a huge selection of artists and art. We encourage the girls to look all around and discover things. And to our surprise they did. Pip Squeak found a dressed mannequin on roofs and skeletons in shop windows. We discovered little owls and Stewy Squirrels.

street artists london

When I got home, I showed Red Ted our photographs and I told him all about our trip and how we found art on the walls of houses. He had lots of questions (mainly about “why”?). And I answered them as best as I could. However, he mainly just loved the actual art itself. I think he  liked the simplicity of it. Some of Banksy’s art afterall is very similar to Red Ted’s drawings (Banksy – Phone Tap below – he ADORED that! Though the pun on words was lost on him).

Exploring Banksy With Kids. Exploring Great Artists with Kids. How do you teach kids about street art.

Banksy – Phone Tap

PS I appear to have highlighted a lot of the Black & White street art… we so lots of very colourful art out there too… but those are for another post on Life At The Zoo.

Our Art Project

I then asked the children how they thought street art was made…. I told them about spray paint and about stencils. And about how lots of street art is then covered up again by the council or other artists, or how it simply fades with time (to much disappointment of Red Ted).

Exploring Banksy With Kids. Exploring Great Artists with Kids. How do you teach kids about street art.

Stencils & “Spray Painting”

A lot street art these days IS created with stencils and spray cans. I decided the best way to “have a go”, was to use some stencils we were given a while back. Both children find drawing around the stencil with a pencil hard work (and a little frustrating), so this was the ideal opportunity to use them differently.

Exploring Banksy With Kids. Exploring Great Artists with Kids. How do you teach kids about street art.

We made our own “spray paint”, I mixed some black paint with water, so that we could use the spray head from a cleaning product (the cleaning product, ahem, was not yet finished, else I would have used the bottle too, but you can see in the photos, that we used a jar with paint/water and the spray head).

Exploring Banksy With Kids. Exploring Great Artists with Kids. How do you teach kids about street art.

We got our stencil out and got spraying. Between each artwork, I had to give the stencil a very good dry, as of course it got very messy and the paint did run under the stencil (stencils do work better with “drier paint”, but we wanted to have a go at spraying like street artists).

The kids ADORED it. I think it was like magic to them. We found we had best results when we were able to spray as “finely” as possible and not make everything too wet. Red Ted’s first attempt was actually the best, but then we knocked the black water paint over it… and spoilt it. Ho hum. Then in started raining… and we took the spray painting “indoors” (in the bathroom)! We had a fabulous fabulous session and the kids had much fun.

On a practical note: the spray head did clog up after a while and ended our art session. Also, some of our pictures were “very wet” and the colour ran everywhere. But I think this was part of the process of understanding “technique” and how tricky it is not get your piece of stencilled art to “run”. More respect to Street Artists!!!

Once we had finished I asked the kids how they found it. We talked about how if you had too much liquid it all got a bit messy and the paint seeped and ran, giving messy edges or distorting the stencil shape – an example of learning how to use a certain medium and “perfect technique”. I also told Red Ted that Banksy made ALL his own stencils and Red Ted was rather impressed by that.

banksy street art with kids

In a fit of over enthusiasm.. I took the children outside and we, ahem, added this little fella to our front wall… it threw up an interesting discussion about how other people feel about “street art” – especially when The Englishman saw it. Discussion is what all of this is about, right?!

I now can’t wait to show Red Ted “real Street Art” and not just photos of it. I hope you enjoy Kids Get Arty and that you are inspired to go off and Explore another Great Artists yourself!

More Great Artist Projects here:

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