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Why paint at home?
Before the stay at home directives due to the coronavirus, I had started setting up painting lessons for my kids from the comfort of our dining room. There’s no art expert at home to do the teaching, but lots of them are available on youtube! As a busy full time working pediatrician and a scatter-brained, always-late type of mom, I couldn’t handle keeping up with art lessons – all of which are at least 20-30 minutes drive away. Plus, they are kind of expensive. Painting at home saves money and time (zero commute, so none of my usual rushing out the door).
First, set up a digital device that can access youtube. A large size screen – laptop, iPad, Kindle – is best for viewing, but in a pinch when our macbook battery drained, I was able to use my phone too. I bought a 8in x 10in canvas pack, a pack of paintbrushes in various sizes, and acrylic paint. Initially, I got a set of six colors of paint. The quantity of six ounces lasted through at least 12-14 paintings, but the variety of colors wasn’t enough for a lot of projects we wanted to try, so eventually I bought a set with more quantity and more shades. I cut open grocery store paper bags to lay out underneath the canvases. Prepare a cup for water to clean the brushes in between colors. I have used paper plates as well as frozen dessert trays as our paint palette. Some of the projects also require common household items like aluminum foil, q-tips, sponges, and cotton balls. An easel might work for some kids, but I find with younger kids it’s easier to lay out all the materials on a flat table.
Picking the paint project
I search “DIY painting tutorial for kids” in youtube. I found that scenery is probably the easiest for my kids to start with. The first two we did were a bird perched on a branch and wind blowing away dandelion flower seeds. Scroll through the galleries below to see the progression of these two projects – though keep in mind they are by a 6 year old and 3 year old, so you might need to use your imagination a little, ha.
Sometimes, the artist instructor will use materials that were not available to us, so we had to improvise. When the tutorial called for using small peppers to stamp in the outline of a flower, we used cotton balls. When a special dark pencil was needed to draw over the oil pastel, we just used a common number 2 pencil. It was a good lesson for my kids to be flexible and creative, to go with plan b, to be okay with having more than one way of doing something, and to do something even if you are not totally ready for it. As I always say, imperfectly done is better than not done.
More advanced options
As the kids become more comfortable with the process and techniques, the options to expand their craft are limitless! We happened to watch a tutorial on blending colors for a sunset, but it wasn’t with acrylic paint. It was with oil pastels. The second grader insisted that she was already familiar with using them in art class at school, so we tried that too. Takes a bit of elbow grease to rub in the colors! It was fun to use a different material. Sometimes for a low key activity, I’ll let the kids an object or animal, and let them practice it with a pencil drawing tutorial. Other things to try include imitating famous paintings (like we did here with Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night), testing out different styles, subject matters, and bigger canvases. Have fun!!!
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