The ABC of Art with Kids


Art with KidsI love art. Always have and always will. Now having children, I find they are an ideal opportunity to revisit art, go back to basics and learn with them.







A – Art Galleries
– If Art is something that you are interested in and that you would like to explore with your children, then Art Galleries you must visit! Take a look at our experience of visiting Art Galleries with the kids. In essence, don’t make it too long, let the kids find something they like, ask open ended questions. If there are no art galleries in your area, what other art is there? Maybe a statue in your town square or local park. Seeing “art for real” is a totally different experience!

art-books-for-kidsB – Books – There is a large rains of Art Books available for kids. Here is a round up of 30 Art books for children to help you get started. We also enjoy looking at “coffee table books” with art work displayed in large full colour photo graphs. So you don’t always have to have a book specifically geared towards children.



ice colour experiment pre schoolerC – Colour Theory – Colour Theory of course is an integral part of any art exploration. On a basic level it is all about how you create new colours out of primary colours. It is great to encourage your kids to explore colours mixing themselves (of course there is an inevitable brown that will frequently result). But we always discuss how we make secondary colours (orange, green and purple) out of primary ones (yellow, red and blue). There are lots of fun way to explore colour theory – e.g. mixing coloured ice cubes, or using spinning tops. It is also about how colours compliment each others. Which colours are cool colours and which are warm. How do they make you feel.


6a00e55246b63f88340177434a4e9d970d-800wiD – Discuss – Discussing art is just as important as having a go. The Artful Parent has some great tips about how to talk to kids about THEIR art. Whilst Tinkerlab shares a 5 easy steps on how to talk to kids about art (in general). And here is an example of in practice where I talked to my son about Klimt and the sort of questions we asked each other.



jbresponseart-11612E – Empathy Art – we all know, that art is about feelings – usually how the artists feels and things that the artists wants to tell the world. Empathy art is a powerful tool used by art therapists and Paint Cut Paste shares a fabulous article explaining Empathy art to us. 



failure-is-instructive2F – Failure –  A great topic when it comes to art with kids. Some kids have the freedom of creating and never worrying about getting things wrong – part of the charm that children’s artwork often has. But more often than not the children go through a period of being scared of mistakes, of failing. As a parent doing art with children, it is important to teach them that there is no “right or wrong” in art and if the child makes a “perceived mistake”, how they can either learn from this or develop their piece of art further (can they incorporate the mistake?). Looking at “failure as an opportunity” – Tinkerlab shares her thoughts on failure, as well as some further resources about the connection between innovators and failure.


exploring-the-great-artists-30-art-projects-for-kidsG – Great Artists – turn to the Great Artists and let them inspired you! Over 30 projects, looking at and inspired by Great Artists are listed here for you. From Mondian to Pollock to O’Keeffe and Calder. Art can should be explored through Seeing, Discussing AND Doing.




painting with kidsH – Hang your Art – personally, I think it is very important to hang your child’s art work up – display it. Show them that you are proud of it. We have the kids artwork all over the house. We have an art “washing line” downstairs. Then some moves upstairs into the kid’s bedroom and up the wall hall way wall. We have some of their paintings by the front door for all visitors to see. Show them that you love their work and that you are proud of it! Red Ted’s bedroom is covered in drawings and things he has coloured in. I love it.


daily-creativity-nurturing-the-artists-within-cloud-spottingI  – Imagination – Imagination forms a key artist’s tool. Though of course you can “go out there, set up an easle and paint a landscape”, mainy pieces of art are created in an art studio and many pieces of art are based on the artists wonderful ability to imagine. Imagination can be assited in many small ways – for example a spot of cloud spotting is fun and easy to do.. the sky is your limit! Alternatively, use prompts such as story cubes to help you develop your imagination when it comes to story telling.

before-and-now-self-portraitJ – Journalling The Imagination Soup has a wonderful (two) posts on Art Journalling – basically a journal to let your creativity explode in. Ihave to confess.. that one year, I tried to join the sketch book project (basically an art journal) and failed miserably, as I was “scared” to somehow start it. Like with it all these things, the more you do it, the easier (and more fun) it becomes. By doing this with your children whilst they are young, you are opening up a huge creative resource – way before any inhibitions starts. I am determined to give me art journal another go. I think I need to do it WITH the kids. That will help me!

Kids Get ArtyK – Kids Get Arty – I cheat a little with “K” and talk about Kids Get Arty.. which of course is builds on The Great Artists, mentioned above. But Kids Get Arty is a bi monthly challenge – challenging you, to pick an great artist with your child, look at that artist’s artwork, discuss it and then on some level have a go – not copy what they did – but copy “how” they did it. Learn about techniques, methods and different media. Come on.. do join in!


Explorig Andy Goldsworthy with kidsL – Land Art – Land Art is a wonderful way to connect with nature and explore art in a completely different way. We did a project inspired by Andy Goldworthy a little while ago. We enjoyed collecting beautiful leaves and creating our own piece of temporary art. We also discovered some wonderful books on landart, which are a pleasure to browse and will give us more inspiration for walks in the woods or by the river.


kids-get-arty-exploring-david-hockney-photo-montageM – Montage and Mixed Media. I couldn’t quite decide to whether to share a “Photo Montage” project that we did, inspired by David Hockney – or whether to talk about Mixed Media – and share a nice Autumn Leaf project by The Artful Parent. So I decided to do both!  Pip Squeak ADORES mix media – andI have a post coming on it soon. She basically loves the different textures of different materials. She loves stick and then she loves dabbing it all in paint. It is a wonderful process of exploration and creating collage. The Photo Montage project was great, as it it built on something that both kids are fascinated by: photography. Needless to say, they have a lot to learn and practice, but with a generation growing up with digital cameras, I think photography is an art medium that will only accelerate. 

woodland fairy craftN – Nature Art – Nature art differs from Land Art (ahem in my opinion) in that you are using nature to create art with you kids at home. Collect leaves and create some Woodland People or maybe beautiful leaf bunting?



SalieraO – Object D’Art -I  love this definition that Art History gives – which in essence says – an Object D’Art is an object that has value to you.  Wikipedia goes into a little more depth and defines it as a small and 3 dimensional item.




Potato PrintingP – Printing – Printing is a popular form of art and has been used in many guises – be it Andy Warhol’s Pop Art prints, fabric printing or in Japanese Art. You will find the art of printing everywhere you look. For more information do read on over at Wikipedia or read more about printing techniques from Design History.

When it comes to printing with kids, the opportunities are endless. Potato Printing is very popular with children – as it is an inexpensive and yet versatile activity. We have had “free” printing sessions to just explore and practice, made wrapping paper and post cards. You can also printing with corks and cookie cutters or whatever takes your fancy. It is about exploring.

questionQ – Questions – I am going to go back to D with this one – discuss art with you child. Ask lots of questions. Here are some questions you can ask your child when exploring art. Here are some of our favourites:

  • What do you like best?
  • What colours do you like best?
  • How does this make you feel?
  • Why do you think the artist did that?
  • Can you find xxx?

junkR – Recycled Art – or also referred to as Junk Modelling – my son LOVES to create anything from junk. Sometimes, I love seeing his wonderful creations, other times I am overwhelmed with the amount of plastic and cartons that he drags home. But in essences you are giving your children a chance to explore space, gravity, how things work together, how they connect, how they stick. What makes a structure topple and what makes it stay up. Art and science in one. Perfect.


in de stijl van niki de saint phalle kunstles (Medium)S – Sculpture – sculpture is something I am yet to explore more with my kids, but the Kids Artists Blog has a wonderful set of different sculpture projects from clay to paper mache. Do go for a browse.  Working in 3D gives a whole new learning experience.



painted scarvesT –  Textiles – another wonderful medium in art – and given to so many different ways of working – That Artist Woman has a great set of textile projects for kids to explore – from working with felt, to batik, to fall leaf print making!




15-7b87f224c1U – Unity – When thinking about the composition of our a piece of art, consider  the Principles of Art: Unity, Harmony, Variety,  Balance, Contrast, Proportion, Pattern. Read more about the principles of Art through Wikipedia or this presentation by Scribd, which describes unity as “When a work of art has”Unity”, the viewer sees the work as a whole, not in separate sections


Canvas-finishedV – Very Small Masterpieces – I love this idea by Imagination Soup of creating very small master pieces. There is something wonderfully attractive about small and also less daunting for a child about a “small piece” of canvas to fill.  Miniature art is something taken seriously by many modern day and traditional artists. In miniature art has played a key role in Indian Art, specifically Moghul paintings and it is something I would love to explore with the children one day.. but there are also fascinating pieces of miniature art – smaller than a needle’s eye.


Our-PaintingsW -Watercolours –  Watercolours are probably one the simplest way to get arty with your kids. Give them paints, water, brushes and paper and let them go wild. Here is a lovely how to make your own water colours how to from The Chocolate Muffin Tree and the Water Colour Pages for on the go by Creative With Kids is simply genius.



art with kids leaf rubbingsX – X ray – So X of course is a little tricky.. so I do hope you like my interpretation of X:  X-ray – exploring reliefs – for example leaf rubbings give you an “x-ray” of your leaf. Ok a little far fetched, but rubbings are wonderful explorative medium for children. A little while back we had a go – no goal, save for to rub rub rub and the kids enjoyed it immensely. It was like magic to them.


rothko yellowY – Yellow – or Blue.. or Green or Red… this is “Homage 2 Yellow ” by Rothko. There are a number of artists that dedicated a lot of their art to exploring colour. Ives Klein created his very own “trademark” blue. What art could you create with your children using only one colour? Maybe create a collage from different pieces of yellow found in a magazine? Experiment with making your own paint the way Ives Klein did. Explore colour by just exploring one colour!


b-boardZ – Zen Art for KidsImagination Soup has  a quirky Zen Art for kids approach – the Buddha Board (it reminds me a little o an etcha sketch but a little artier). The idea to be able to paint and possibly doodle. Let your artistic mind wander and create. However your creations are not permanent, so you learn to have to let go. How does it feel to watch your art disappear? Read more about it on  Imagination Soup try out your own online  Buddha Board version.


Joining in with the ABC series: