11 August, 2014

Abstract Painting with Kids


While many of my American friends are seeing the end of summer, and the return to school for their kids, we've still got 3 more weeks of summer vacation. I've been trying to make the most of it. For both myself and the kids. Field trips, swimming, lazy days, and new creative activities.

Last week we started abstract painting. To be fair, I think the kids have been doing this for a while! But this time we did a bit of research on abstract painting, discussed emotions and their expression, and I used real, ADULT acrylic paints on canvas. Having fancy supplies goes a long way.

To start with, the girls picked colours to express an emotion. Our first emotion was happy. Yellows, oranges, red, pink, turquoise, and silver. Bright, shiny colours. My only bit of control over the project was that I doled out the colours on the canvas. So I dotted it where they told me. Then they went to town.


They ground the paint into the canvas, they gingerly spread the paint, they used broad strokes. They played. And I resisted - badly - all attempts to direct their activities. That was very, very difficult. In part I wanted to participate. I also wanted to interrupt and give directions constantly. But I held off and only spoke when adding more paint or to emphasize the emotion they were conveying.

They filled the canvas, making sure no white spots remained. They touched it up with silver. And then, because they didn't quite get the notion of abstract, they added some lettering.

You know what? They were happy doing it. And I was happy watching them. It was a new form of creativity in this house. I think my oldest, especially, loved the idea of expressing something without having to be literal in her art. Because when you are 8 you are usually literal. This gave her an unexpected freedom.


The whole idea for the project came through Pinterest. Yes, I've finally joined Pinterest. And lo and behold, I saw this idea on a random pin one of the first days I was on there. No instructions, just the image of the paint dots, painting, and the canvas. Because Pinterest is still new for me I actually acted  on the inspiration!

To start with we looked up some abstract painters, classic and current. Like Kandisky, Lisa Congdon, and Marissa Anne from Creative Thursday. We talked about what one can do with just paint and about expressing feelings or ideas. It all felt rather liberating.

We've since done more canvases. (A friend of mine gave me the tip that we could buy small canvases at the dollar store. That certainly cuts down on the cost once we invested in the paints.) I still police the paint use as a certain Evil Genius has a tendency to want to use ALL the paint. I do not, however, paint myself with them. I find my kids compare my work with theirs and I don't think that is fair to them at all. They skip the adult versus kid part of that and get deflated because they perceive mine as better. So I let them be and wander around their own creativity.


If you are on Pinterest, you can follow me. I am trying to fill my boards with all sorts of inspiration. More pins daily. And let me know if you are on there too.

7 comments:

liz said...


Great post and brilliant activity for you to do "with" the girls. I agree with your call not to create your own art simultaneously... that would have seriously hindered me as a kid.

sew katie did said...

You're a great mom. My task is to make Roan as bored as possible so he wants to go back to school;)

Shannyn said...

Great Idea!!! Also....did you know they sell 'flat' canvases at the dollar store?! Here in Ontario we have Dollaramas everywhere and they have them. Plus keep an eye on Michael's craft stores often the mounted canvas' go on sale 40% off.

CitricSugar said...

Excelling mum job, Cheryl. Brava!

Sew Jacky O said...

What a great thing to do with your girls and what a lovely piece of art to treasure.

Miscellany and Quirk said...

What a great project! Glad to see you're now on Pinterest. I'm on there too! (MiscellanyandQuirk) - although I find it's very easy to lose hours and get a bit overwhelmed! :) Annie

obat aborsi said...

Thank you so much for picking my card as one your winners from the teddies challenge, it is such an honour.
Thank you for all your hard work in making the challenge so successful, it's a shame that the challenge is ending but I can totally understand your reasons and wish you all the best.
Sue xx