Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Abstract Painting with Kids (including more Splatter Painting)

I did some abstract painting with the children in my art classes over the last few weeks of term.  The hard thing with doing such art is stopping them from getting carried away and ending up with a blurred brown mess.  It can look wonderful one minute and then a mess the next.  All the paintings in this post are produced by children 5 to 9 years old.

Spatter painting
I do however think that doing abstract art with children is important.  It shows them that creating art is not just for those people who are good at drawing.  Anyone can create art and being experimental and willing to try new techniques is all part of the creative journey.

I love classes where I can show them new techniques and get them to try things they had never thought of doing......

Abstract painting on MDF primed with white gesso
I have to admit that one class didn't quite go to plan.  I'm sure you have all had this experience at some stage of your lives (work function, teaching, kids art activity at home) when you think its going to be the best class / activity ever and then it all goes pear shaped....I had to steal one of my husbands beers at the end of that class!

I really thought the children would get into the abstract painting yet one or two weren't so keen and what I failed to do initially was make enough guidelines to stop the "brown mess"....  I ended up changing the lesson the second time around and getting my first class to add to their paintings again in another class.  In the end they all worked quite well. 

close up of our group tall painting (see end of post)
What I learnt was don't give them the colours to make brown!  Get them to do the backgrounds in either cool or warm colours so they can only mix them to a variation of orange or blue.  Secondly do the painting in two stages.  In the second sitting (either different day or after a quick break) tell them they are now no longer able to touch their painting and they must drip paint on and move it around by tilting their board.  This prevents too much blending and leaves some of the drops and pretty dribbles.

What you need:
  • MDF boards primed with Gesso (you could use canvas boards instead)
  • Thick paints for backgrounds on lids (in cool or warm colours)
  • Thinned down paint for dribbling (in various colours)
  • Pipettes
  • Drizzling sticks (I found those large pop sticks worked really well)
  • Paint Effects tools for backgrounds (we used plastic spatulas, credit cards and palette knifes)
How To:
  • Backgrounds - use the paint effects tools to do an abstract background
  • Second layer - use the runny paint to add a second layer of paint in either dribbles or by adding blobs of paint and tilting the board to make it drizzle around (this created a pour painting effect).
The Results: Actually these turned out much better than I remembered.  When I was editing these photos I thought I would be happy to put a number of these up on my wall.  Some are really lovely.

For my Saturday class I just stuck to my standard Splatter Painting class (click here and here for previous posts on this).  I just love this class and this one is nearly fail proof.  The things that work really well in this class is showing the Jackson Pollock Video first (click here) this really sets the scene in what we are trying to produce and how.  Tell them not to let the paint brush touch the canvas, all paint must be splattered, thrown, drizzled or sprayed onto the canvas.  Use canvas boards as these can absorb all the paint and stay put on the ground.  Put the canvas on the ground and get the children to stand over their canvas (like Jackson does).  Use runny paint (water it down to a consistency that drips from the brush easily).  Get the children to wear old clothes (this can get very messy) and have a bucket ready to wash feet in afterwards.

Saturday class results:

Finally - I just ran a holiday workshop called "Abstract Painting for Kids" where we did both splatter painting (on canvas) and an abstract painting (on MDF primed with black Gesso) using the same techniques as above.  Again the results are really stunning:

Abstract painting (on MDF with back gesso)

Spatter painting (on white canvas boards)
We also did a group "Tall Painting" in the workshop.  I primed some Plywood with black gesso, hot glued on some old kids building blocks we had lying around and then we spooned the runny paint over the top.  Each kid got a go at spooning the paint on.  We watched the video showing how Holton Rower makes his famous tall paintings first.  Watch this - its facinating!!!  This unusual painting is going to be a lovely addition to the studio.

Happy painting!