Several times a week my girls are asking to paint. Sometimes I plan a fun project for them (“product-based art”), but most of the time I try to inspire their creativity by setting out the supplies and encouraging process-based art–art that doesn’t have rules or boundaries, just allows for experimentation and exploration with colors, materials, and technique.
Creating painted papers is a process-based project they love, and then later those painted papers are recycled and used as supplies in a product-based project, which I love! Two projects for the price of one.
Painted paper collages are used by several children’s book illustrators–Eric Carle being the most well known. Here’s how we created our painted papers:
- card stock or construction paper
- washable tempera paint
- paint brushes
- “texture tools” (more on this below)
The paint. My kids really like to mix colors when they paint and I used to squirt different colors on a paper plate and let them mix away. But I noticed after a painting session we were throwing away a lot of unused paint (not to mention the colors began to get pretty muddy on the plate!).
So I picked up a few lidded containers from the dollar store and now we mix colors in the containers, and then just store the leftover for later. It saves money in the long run because you just need to buy the basic colors. It’s also a fun way to let them experiment with color mixing.
Hmmm. Technically this project may not be process-based art, because there is one guideline I give the kids: paint the paper all the way to the edges. And yes, the table will get messy. Cover the surface with a vinyl tablecloth, placemats or something wipeable for easier cleaning and just go with it. Creativity is messy and you’re about to give those creativity muscles a great workout!
Paint the paper a base color.
Use a second (or third, or fourth) color to embellish with swirls, stripes, dots, drips, etc.
Scrape, dip, or swirl a “texture tool” on the wet paint to create variation.
You can buy tools specifically made for this, but if you spend a few minutes looking around you’ll probably find “tools” that will work just fine. Sponges, combs, forks, or just fingertips make great textures.
We keep these dollar store hair combs in our paint supplies as “texture tools.”
A small batch of painted papers can be set on a counter to dry, or an empty dish drainer doubles its duty as a drying rack.
And then, while they’re drying, you’ll have this.
Take a deep breathe, and get out the wet wipes, and repeat: “It’s okay. Creativity is messy, and I’ve just given those creativity muscles a great workout!”
And now, look forward to part two of the painted paper projects and creating gorgeous works of art!
(Search on Pinterest for painted paper project ideas, or stay tuned for more ideas here on the blog.)