Abstract Art For Kids from Dani Henriksen

February 2, 2011

Note from Design Mom: While I’m busy with the move to France, I’ve got a crew of talented Guest Moms filling in for me. Today Dani is sharing three terrific painting projects with you. Enjoy!

This is such a thrill for me to step out of my life as a full-time mom for a moment and share some painting ideas here on one of my favorite sites! I hope that these art projects inspire you to go out and buy your children some paints and canvas and encourage them to express their own unique creativity. Since my first son was born almost 6 years ago I have looked forward to providing each of my children with opportunities to create through art. You will see that these projects are not complicated (or expensive) and only require a few simple materials.

My sons Liam (5) and Lance (3 ½) created 3 simple Abstract paintings to share.

Abstract #1: Pressed Shapes

You will need a very handsome child, a blank canvas, acrylic molding paste (sold in the painting section of art supply stores and craft stores like Michaels), a palette knife, paper cups and a beaded necklace (or other items of your choosing), and children’s tempera or professional acrylic paint.

Before starting I recommend reading these guidelines about safety when painting with children.

Step 1: Spread the molding paste over the canvas with a palette knife making sure it is at least 1/8th inch thick.

Step 2: Press the cups and beaded necklace (or other items you selected) into the paste to make interesting designs. Allow it to dry 8 hours or overnight. You may speed up the drying process with a hair dryer.

Step 3: Paint the canvas. Make sure your child wears gloves if using professional acrylic paints. My son likes to make his paint drip so he propped up the canvas and diluted the paint with water to make the colors run together. He also decided to color the circles in to make them stand out.

Abstract #2: Fun Lines

You will need a very silly child, a blank canvas, a jar of acrylic clear tar gel (sold at art supply and craft stores), a palette knife, paint and paintbrushes.

Step 1: Have the child dip the palette knife into the clear tar gel and then move the knife over the canvas allowing the gel to drizzle and make interesting lines and patterns. Allow it to dry for 8 hours.

Step 2: Paint the canvas. Liam took over the painting portion of this project. He painted with Golden brand acrylics. He liked the shapes that were made by the tar gel lines and decided to paint all the shapes in different colors.

Abstract #3: Comb Lines

You will need a blank canvas, acrylic molding paste, a palette knife, a comb, paint and paintbrushes.

Step 1: Spread the acrylic molding paste across the canvas with a palette knife. Then drag a comb through the paste to create fun lines. Allow the surface to dry 8 hours.

Step 2:  Paint! I think Lance is still too young for professional acrylics (for safety reasons) so he used these. The colors are very concentrated and mix really well. At the end Liam added a little silver acrylic paint to the canvas just for fun.

The best part about these projects is that they allow a lot of freedom of expression. The most important thing is not necessarily the final product but the process don’t you think? If you want more ideas check out my art blog, Pineapple Paintbrush. You can even follow along with my Online Preschool Art Class starting this Spring. I am documenting the class with step-by-step instructions and lots of helpful tips. I am very excited about it! I have to say thank you to Gabrielle for this opportunity to share these ideas with you. She is amazing and I can’t wait to read all about her adventures in France! I guess I better get back to my kids who are on the loose in my house – this has been fun!

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ren Lady Of The Arts February 2, 2011 at 10:07 am

What a cute project- the boys look so concentrated and what fabulous artists! Lovely post!

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2 Christy February 2, 2011 at 10:23 am

look great and fun;) love it

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3 Laura Gaskill February 2, 2011 at 10:31 am

This is great! When I was teaching preschool I was always on the lookout for smart projects like this – that combine creative freedom on the part of the child with a really cool-looking end result that Mom and Dad would be proud to hang on the living room wall, not just tacked to the fridge! Now that I am a Mama myself, I will be adding this to my personal project file to use when my little one is big enough! xo Laura

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4 Tarin@ The Virginia Library Project February 2, 2011 at 10:31 am

How cool! Can’t wait to try this. Your little Artiste did an awesome job!

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5 Lisa February 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

Wow, Dani! These are great! I decided that I wanted to decorate my home with art by the kids. This is a great way to get them involved in their own personal masterpieces. Thank you for the step by step instructions!

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6 Sara February 2, 2011 at 10:45 am

These are great!!! I love the amazing addition with the incorporation of the textures and how that inspired your kids. Definitely adding this to my list. Thanks so much!!

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7 Meghan Beutler February 2, 2011 at 11:22 am

Fabulous! I can’t wait to share this with my little boy when he gets old enough to appreciate it. I love the freedom of expression that comes through abstraction. Thanks you for sharing.

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8 Lynette February 2, 2011 at 11:42 am

Love it! And love them! I know them personally! how awesome and she is so cool! MY daughter took her art class and still her highlight of her life! (She is only 5 :0 ) )

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9 Sue McGuire February 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Dani, I’m so impressed with your creativity and how you’ve shared your love for art with your sons and their friends. The neat thing about art and creating fun art projects is that the concept of right and wrong doesn’t exist – art is an expression of who we are, how we feel, and how we view the world around us. Kudos to you, Dani!!

Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

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10 Melissa Hansen February 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I love the abstract paintings!! You and your boys are very talented artists. I wish I had the same creativity. I would really love a big art piece like this in my house! Are Liam’s paintings for sale?

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11 Squat February 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Did you hear about the two little boys who wandered into a modern art gallery by mistake? “Quick,” said one, “Run! before they say we did it!”

How cool to instill such confidence with art at such a young age. As the Lady above put it, “Kudos to you Dani!!”

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12 melynda February 2, 2011 at 4:39 pm

dani, this is awesome. you are such an amazing mom. your boys are so lucky. love you.

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13 LP February 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Guffah! These are stellar ideas! I will certainly be following your spring art session. Love the exhibit idea. LOVE IT. Brilliant.

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14 Jenny February 2, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Nice post; I was inspired just by the mason jars full of paint! Anyone know if it’d stay fresh with the lids on?

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15 Alyssa February 2, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I am so so so excited to see this! My preschooler and grade schooler both love art projects and I am always in need of ideas. A big THANK YOU to Dani – I can’t wait for the online art class to begin!

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16 Heather February 3, 2011 at 7:14 am

I just checked out the online art class starting in Spring and can’t wait to follow along with my 3 kids!

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17 Kelley February 3, 2011 at 10:53 am

What Fun! These are some great ideas… I have to get my hands on some of that paste.

Thanks!

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18 Shannon February 3, 2011 at 11:50 am

Really amazing. I’m going to head over to your art blog right now. :-)

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19 Krissy @ B.Inspired Vintage February 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Coming from a former art teacher – Thank You, Thank You, THANK YOU! These kids art activities (that focus on process, not product) are so refreshing.

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20 Steph at Modern Parents Messy Kids February 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm

That art is so great – truly something you can proudly and permanently hang on the wall of any room. I’m very excited to check out your preschool art series. I recently posted on getting my art tool box ready for my toddler:

http://www.modernparentsmessykids.com/2010/11/what-to-put-in-your-art-tool-box.html

So we are ready for some projects!!

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21 Jillian February 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm

What a great idea! (And what cute kids!). I’ve got you in my reader so I’ll know when your spring classes start. My 3-year-old son would love it. He’s in a wonderful preschool, but they don’t do a lot of art.

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22 cate February 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm

thank you! all these snow days have left us, well, feeling a bit artless at times. cannot wait to go check out your blog.

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23 Veronica February 4, 2011 at 12:11 am

Dani, you are freakin amazing!!!! Such fun ideas!!

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24 andrea @Dwelling on the Positive February 4, 2011 at 1:24 am

Great ideas…and the kids are obviously having a blast!

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25 merrilee February 5, 2011 at 11:48 pm

very fun. kids+paint=good time for everyone!

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26 Mikelle Sevy February 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm

What Fun ideas, I can’t wait to try them with my kids. As always Dani you are so inspiring!

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27 Bonnie Dickerson February 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Great project. So important to include creative activities in kids lives, glad I have a new one to include on my list.

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28 rhonda tiner February 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

He did an awesome job painting! Love it! My grandson and I do art together often.

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29 Linda lee March 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Great ideas — FUN & CREATIVE projects which allow kids to create a “genuine” work of fine art! Thanks!!

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30 Shannon March 10, 2011 at 9:04 am

Awesome! I homeschool and this beats our art curriculum we have. So much fun and interesting. I will def try!!

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31 Lecia Hines May 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

This is actually cool

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32 Amy January 17, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Hi! This project looks so cool! We’re going to try it for a couple of 3rd grade classes over a month time frame. Any general suggestions on how much modeling paste you used per canvas? (and the size of your canvas?) We’re shooting for 9×12″ size. Thanks!

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