Inspired by Helen Frankenthaler

These turned out SO well- it was hard to send them home with the kids because I wanted to keep them all for myself!  First, we looked at pictures of Frankenthaler’s paintings and talked about how she made them and what they reminded us of.  The pouring step was inspired by Frankenthaler’s process, and the hammering was an added touch that was an idea from Purple Twig.

muslin, liquid watercolors in condiment cups, sponge brushes, plastic placemats or wax paper taped to table, hammers, flowers and leaves, dowels, sewing machine with white thread, white yarn

  1. cut muslin into about 10×20 inch pieces
  2. cover table with paper to soak up extra paint once pouring starts
  3. pour *a little* paint at a time on the fabric, and spread it around with a sponge brush
  4. let that dry, or leave empty spots that are dry for the hammering step
  5. place plastic or wax paper (anything that does not allow the pigment from leaves/flowers to soak into it) on the table (or floor- wherever kids can hammer without ruining the surface)
  6. place painted and dried muslin on plastic
  7. place a leaf or flower under muslin wherever you want the color to be smashed (with leaves- lay them flat if you want the leaf shape, or bunch them up to make it easier to squish color out)
  8. hammer! I did this with 4 and 5 year olds and they did great- I had them hold the hammer right at the top so they would have more control and be safer
  9. throw away the smashed leaf/flower
  10. repeat steps 7-9
  11. sew the top of the banner so that the dowel can slide in
  12. tie a small piece of yarn to the dowel for a hanger…we didn’t have time but kids could also decorate the hanger with beads


Painting on Plastic

I started a new class this fall that is specially designed for two and three year olds. It is process based and many of the classes to do not culminate in a take-home product, and the lessons often involve collaboration.

This painting lesson was the first class, and is from Meri Cherry so click over to read her post. I asked the children not to mix the paint colors for the first half of class, and towards the end I invited them to start mixing, which held their interest. I also brought out sponge brushes towards the end of class. Painting on plastic is pretty fun- the paint really glides across the surface and it feels different than paper. I painted a blue outline around the plastic, and I also taped larger paper behind it to keep the walls clean.  Also, this is a secret: I just used trash bags!

Talavera Tiles

This was an extension activity during a unit about Frida Kahlo. I showed examples of talavera tiles from Mexico, as well as images of Kahlo’s kitchen.

square papers, pencils, rulers, 6×6 inch ceramic tiles, china markers, patio paint, spray sealer, school glue, cork paper

  1. make a practice drawing of the design on paper with pencil- use a ruler to find the center of the square so the design can start in the center
  2. use a china marker to make the design on the ceramic tile
  3. add paint
  4. wipe away any china marker still showing
  5. spray with sealer
  6. glue cork paper to the back

Ink Paintings

alcohol ink, clear plastic film, rubbing alcohol, droppers

  1.  place a border of masking/washi tape around the plastic so children can see the edges
  2. drop alcohol inks as desired on to plastic
  3. drop rubbing alcohol on top of inks to watch it make the colored ink move or disappear
  4. hang in window, layer over white paper or colored paper, or layer two paintings!


Inspired by Wayne Thiebaud

canvas paper, pencil, acrylic paint, brushes, palette

  1. show students examples of Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings and draw dessert items step by step (I drew slices, of cake, pie, and cupcakes and they added lollipops on their own)
  2. students draw dessert items in pencil on canvas paper- some added tables, plates, and silverware, while others just had a colorful background
  3.  cover pencil lines in blue paint (could choose a different color)
  4. add color with acrylic paint to the rest of the shapes and to the background

Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe

My Name is Georgia

acrylic paint, kid-made stencils, canvas paper

  1.  paint a blue background layer of acrylic paint
  2. when that layer dries, add sunset details
  3. draw clouds on a clear plastic sheet (2 – 3 different sizes)
  4. cut out clouds to leave empty stencil for use
  5. tape cloud stencils on painting and use sponge brush to fill in with white paint
  6. remove stencils


oil pastels, watercolor paint, watercolor paper

  1. draw flowers with oil pastel (press down hard)
  2. add watercolor paint

IMG_2330 copy  IMG_2308 copy