Kids need to know that there are no rules when it comes to painting — other than not painting each other. By letting kids experiment freely with all kinds of painting exercises, they can learn to relax and let their creativity take over. After giving kids the opportunity to try exercises you design for them, give them the chance to design some exercises for themselves and their classmates.
Using Alternate Materials
After mastering the basics of using a brush, cleaning it between colors and applying paint to the paper, kids can have fun moving on to some interesting variations. Instead of a brush, let them apply paint with a cotton ball or swab, a feather, a stick, or a toothbrush, among many other possibilities. Let kids paint on old sheets, old clothes, grocery cartons, pages torn from old books, cereal boxes, rocks and other surfaces. Challenge kids to come up with ideas for substitute brushes and substitutes for paper.
Music and Painting
Music can provide inspiration for young painters. You might play five minutes of a slow piece of music and then ask kids to select an appropriate paint color and paint free-form while the music replays. You can repeat the same exercise with a zippy piece of music. You might experiment with different genres of music and have the kids paint with a variety of colors accompanied by country music, opera, rock, jazz and classical music.
The Painted Wall
An ongoing painting exercise depends on finding a wall that you can reserve for painting, perhaps in an unused hallway, a basement or garage. If that isn’t possible, you can cover a wall with butcher paper. After you start a mural with either a big city or a country scene, give each child the painting job of adding one element of his choice per day. For example, on the first day, one student adds a sidewalk; on the second day, another student adds a tree. When everyone has had a turn, the first student paints out one object and repaints something new, so the project is an ongoing one.
Kids can use painting blobs as the background for ink drawings. They’ll need to have light-colored paint in a variety of colors. They simply plop blobs of color all over their papers and let them dry. Next they use black pens to draw in details, joining the colors by using common themes. Another blob activity has kids reproducing famous paintings by only placing blobs of color, without details, where they appear on the paintings.