When school is out for the summer, it becomes the perfect opportunity for children to continue learning within the walls of their own home! While your child may have had lessons on various topics during the school year, art is one subject that is sure to be enjoyed even during his summer vacation. So help your child tap into his creative side this summer with these 5 different art-inspired projects.
The purpose of these summer learning projects is to not only help your child practice his artistic skills, but to also introduce him to basic principles of art and art history, as well as to help him familiarize himself with several art mediums. While these projects can be created on a table or floor, a wooden standing art easel is the easiest and most convenient way to keep everything organized and accessible. Let’s get started!
Lesson #1: Color Mixing
Color Mixing is one of the basic skills needed in many art mediums – especially painting. Being able to create a brand new color or even a variation of a color by mixing them together can be quite handy when trying to find just the right color for a masterpiece.
Before we begin, here are a few terms that are helpful when mixing colors:
“Primary Colors” are the 3 main colors needed to create all others. They are red, yellow, and blue.
“Secondary Colors” are the 3 colors that are created by mixing the Primary Colors. They are orange, violet, and green.
“Tertiary Colors” are what are created when a Primary and Secondary color are mixed. Examples are: orange-yellow, violet-red, and green-blue.
To practice mixing colors, your child will need paint (red, yellow, and blue; as well as black and white if he would like to create lighter or darker shades of the colors he created), paint brushes in varying sizes, a color wheel, and a printable practice sheet.
A color wheel is useful for the following purposes (see the picture below):
1. It will show you which colors need to be mixed together to create a new color. For example, if I wanted to create orange, I would look on the color wheel and see that it is a secondary color, meaning it is made by mixing 2 primary colors. Since it is located in the middle of the red and yellow primary colors, I know that I need to mix those two colors to get orange.
2. It will tell you which colors are complimentary. Complimentary colors are also known as “opposite colors” because they are located directly across each other on the color wheel. For example, red is directly opposite green, so they are complimentary colors. They provide the maximum amount of contrast when they are placed side by side. If you take a walk down the produce aisle at the supermarket you might see several packages that use this strategy to make their produce more appealing: red strawberries placed in green containers, for example, make the strawberries appear even more red than they would if placed in a yellow container.
So whether you have a color wheel decal made for your wall or dry-erase board (I made mine here) or you create a color wheel of your own, it is a very convenient tool and useful guide when first learning to mix colors.
Once you’ve discussed colors and how they can be used to create new colors, it’s time to put that knowledge to the test! Help your child follow the steps in this printable Color Mixing Worksheet. Use an artist pallet (or a paper plate) to mix the colors. It is almost like magic the way the colors react with each other to make something completely different. Have your child try several combinations to see what colors he can create, using the color wheel as a guide, if necessary. It is a great experiment that will provide hours of fun for your child!
Lesson #2: Mosaic Art
Mosaics are murals typically made with small, square-shaped glass or stone pieces. The pieces are arranged together side-by-side, similar to the tile in a kitchen back-splash, to create a pattern or image.
To create a mosaic, draw a simple picture on a piece of white paper. It could be an outdoor scene, or even a simple shape, like a square. Have your child choose the colors to be used in the picture. Have him first rip the paper into strips (folding and creasing the paper before will help him to rip in a more-or-less straight line), and then rip each strip into small squares.
Next, apply the glue to the paper in a small area. Place the squares of paper onto the glued area, leaving a small amount of space in between each one so the white paper behind can peek through. Continue gluing and placing squares until the entire area is filled.
Lesson #3: Post-Impressionism
This activity is based on post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” (An internet search for this painting or a quick trip to the library will help your child visualize what this activity is about.)
To make this project, your child will need any type of art medium he would like: construction paper, crayons, colored pencils, glitter glue sticks, markers, paint, chalk etc. This is a great opportunity for him to try out mediums he is perhaps unfamiliar with or with which he hasn’t had much experience. An art set for kids is a great choice for this activity because it offers so much variety.
Van Gogh’s painting involved creating lines around objects in the night sky – stars, the moon, and clouds. To create his own work of art, your child will need to create a shape to draw around and either draw or glue it right onto a piece of white paper, then follow these steps:
1. Draw dashed- or solid lines around the shape. He can either go strictly around the shape itself or meander off the shape at a point or two to create a swirling effect.
2. Pick a different color and do the same thing just above the line already drawn.
3. Add line upon line, switching colors as you go along.
4. Keep going until the picture is filled!
Lesson #4: Pointillism
Pointillism dates back to the late 1800’s when artists started using small dots of color to create an image in place of the usual long, broad stokes of a paint brush. It is similar to the way a computer printer prints an image using small dots of ink.
While these artists typically used small paint brushes to achieve this look in their paintings, the small, flat eraser at the end of a pencil will help your child keep their dots uniform in shape and size.
To do this activity, your child will need paint, and several pencils with un-used erasers at the end – one pencil per color used.
Have your child dip the eraser into paint, blotting off any excess paint onto his pallet (or paper plate). Making sure the eraser is flat against the paper, press the eraser to apply the circle of paint. Depending on how much paint is on the eraser, he should be able to get a few dots on the page before having to get more paint. Keep going until the picture is complete!
Lesson #5: Painted Collage
Painted Collage is technique that your child may recognize, especially if they’ve read books by Eric Carle. It is a great way to teach your child about “warm” and “cool” colors, which can be identified on a color wheel on the right and left sides, respectively:
“Warm Colors” include shades of red, orange, and yellow.
“Cool Colors” include shades of green, blue, and violet.
To create the painted papers for your collage, have your child take a large paint brush and paint broad strokes onto his paper – there is no right or wrong here – up and down, side to side, diagonal, etc. It does not have to be painted as a solid color – in fact, little bits of white paper showing through is perfectly acceptable and will create good contrast to an otherwise solid paint color. To add even more texture and variety, have your child use streaks of color within the same color family, ie, if painting yellow for a sun, add other warm colors such as red or orange, blending them a little as he goes.
Continue doing the same for as many colors necessary to create the masterpiece.
Once the paint has dried, use scissors to cut out the shapes required to make the picture. Glue into place.
These summer learning activities are sure to give your child a full week of creative play (while sneaking in some art techniques and art history at the same time!) It may get a touch messy at times and the results may not always be perfect (even the great artists started out as beginners and had to learn along the way, after all!) but it is a great outlet and a chance for him to learn and create and discover new ways to do so! Have a happy summer creating!
Katie Heap is the author of Live Craft Eat–a place where she writes about her 3 loves: raising her family, her crafting endeavors, and learning to cook. You can subscribe to her blog or follow Live Craft Eat on Pinterest and Facebook.