En Plein Air – Painting Outside Like Monet

Getting both kids outside with paint is no easy task, so I came up with a way to do it that was easy to grab and go when inspiration strikes. Of course after I got it outside my son decided he wanted to play soccer instead. Luckily friends stopped by to pick apples and one was more than excited to paint ! I was more than happy to oblige and my son was happy to help his friend’s mom pick apples instead. Remember never force kids to do art , the goal is to enrich and appreciate and forcing won’t achieve either.

    1. Gather your materials. For this I used a clip board, liquid paint in many colors, a water color set and paper.Supplies for easy outside painting
    2. You might notice that there is no water in the materials. That is because You can pop the dried water colors out, and gently place liquid paint in, so you don’t have to run back inside for more water.
    3. Pop the water colors out.

    1. Pour in liquid paint.

    1. Place back in case.

    1. Clip the lid of the water color case under the clip board to keep it in place and find a perfect spot to paint, he chose a great spot under an apple tree.

  1. Paint what you see.
  2. He painted beautiful apples and leaves.

It did take a little convincing that it was ok to mix the colors, if you have a child who is really reluctant , pack along multiple brushes, which is much easier than packing and refilling water when you are far from a faucet.

Book

Katie Meets The Impressionistsby James Mayhew is a art fairytale! Katie goes to the museum with her grandmother and before she knows it she is in the paintings and the world of the painters and their families.  Katie goes from painting to painting gathering flowers for her grandma and exploring a world on the other side of the canvas.  What I enjoy about this book is that it brings the paintings to life for readers and it shares the  back story in a way that children can connect to and imagine the possibilities when they go to museums! Of all these books this one held my son’s attention the least. I like to think it’s because he’s not a fan of impressionism, but I think it was simply a little long for his not quite 3 year old attention span.  Maybe if Renoir had painted garbage trucks… seriously though this is a fabulous book and worth a read!

Masterpiece Memory Game

While browsing through the kid section of the gift shop at The Art Institute of Chicago I saw a fine art memory game that I wanted, what I didn’t want was the price tag, or the extra weight in my suitcase on the trip home. So instead I grabbed a few packs of Art Stickers ( for $1.50 each) and made my own. Memory games like this are great to teach basic game playing etiquette , good sportsmanship as well as an appreciation of the subject matter.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some card stock, fine art stickers and scissors.
  2. Start by cutting your card stock into squares. I made 16 ( 8 pairs) which seems to be a great and manageable number of pairs  for my son . Memory games have never been his strong suit so follow your own child’s abilities and you can always add or remove cards as needed.
  3. Pop the stickers on. I made the pairs match up with card color too as an extra hint for my son since I am trying to encourage him to play this game more without it ending in frustration over not getting it right away.
  4. All done.
  5. Flip over .
  6. Time to play.
  7. He made a match!

This game was a bigger hit this time than memory has ever been before, not sure if it was the color hint , subject matter or simply the right game on the right day. All I know is to keep trying lessons, games and activities even if they weren’t hits initially.

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Books About Fine Art

Touch the Art: Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo is the inspiration for this post and my son’s new found love of Renaissance Art. The book is a board book with touch and feel aspects to it. The text is cute but not a story, each page asks the reader to do something with the touch and feel item . The real gem is bringing the art to young eyes. The book includes wonderful masterpieces : Girl with A Pearl Earring , Birth of Venus, The Arnolfini Portrait and more!

Katie Meets The Impressionists by James Mayhew is a art fairytale! Katie goes to the museum with her grandmother and before she knows it she is in the paintings and the world of the painters and their families.  Katie goes from painting to painting gathering flowers for her grandma and exploring a world on the other side of the canvas.  What I enjoy about this book is that it brings the paintings to life for readers and it shares the  back story in a way that children can connect to and imagine the possibilities when they go to museums! Of all these books this one held my son’s attention the least. I like to think it’s because he’s not a fan of impressionism, but I think it was simply a little long for his not quite 3 year old attention span.  Maybe if Renoir had painted garbage trucks… seriously though this is a fabulous book and worth a read!

Here’s Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) is devoted to self portraits and the story behind each one in this fascinating book. This is a book for children older than my son who is 4 but I still showed him every painting ( all self portraits) and read highlights of the text which I found fascinating and can’t wait to share it with my kids when they are a little older. I read a lot of art history books for fun and I learned a few things reading this.  I can’t think of a better book to couple with a lesson about self portraits for kids 6-12.

Inspired By Jasper Johns

I love fine art. I love museums and I kinda like taking my kids there. Ok I love exposing them to art but honestly I wish I could take them to museums for a quick zip through then send them off with their dad to get ice cream while I soak it all in at my speed ( which is normally fast but in an art museum I am a turtle, a lethargic one at that).  Luckily one way to expose kids to fine art day to day is through books. We have a coffee table book that we flip through daily and we all have our favorites. The other day I caught my son pretending to shoot at this painting by Jasper Johns. I suggested we make our own and he skipped off to the kitchen to do just that.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, red paper and if you want another sheet of card stock to make it sturdy enough to throw things at. Also some round objects like jar lids to make the rings if you aren’t talented enough to make them free hand ( I am most certainly not, even with the lids I did it twice), blue and yellow markers, glue and scissors.
  2. Start by making the target using the lids to trace. Kids or adults can do this. I wanted this project to focus on cutting for my son so I chose this step and he did all the cutting ( which you’ll see later on) but there is not reason it needs to be perfect if wee ones want to do it , go for it.
  3. Next add the bulls eye.
  4. Time to color. This was a lesson in being careful, I didn’t tell him to stay in the lines but he naturally wanted to. I am not big on asking kids while doing art to stay in the lines but practicing control while drawing/writing is a good skill once they are working on printing letters.
  5. Time to cut. I wasn’t sure how far he’d get so I had adult and children’s scissors ready.
  6. He did it all himself – hooray. Cutting is another wonderful fine motor skill and important for writing as well.
  7. Add glue to the red paper. He was dropping “glue bombs” here… what can I say ?
  8. Pop the target on .
  9. Add more glue to the card stock add the target and let dry.

Fine Art Books by Bob Raczka


Artful Reading (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) is a perfect combination of promoting an appreciation of art and a love of reading. The concept is simple with each page showcasing a painting of someone reading . What I love so much is that while the text suggests what type of reading the painting is showing it’s still up for the reader to go deeper into each and decide what they are seeing. Both times my son and I rad this book we discussed what the people were reading and which we liked the best. I love books like this.

Here’s Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) is devoted to self portraits and the story behind each one in this fascinating book. This is a book for children older than my son who is 4 but I still showed him every painting ( all self portraits) and read highlights of the text which I found fascinating and can’t wait to share it with my kids when they are a little older. I read a lot of art history books for fun and I learned a few things reading this.  I can’t think of a better book to couple with a lesson about self portraits for kids 6-12.

No One Saw is a more general book  focusing on familiar subjects of different artists. What I think is so genius about this book is that it focuses kids’ attention on the subjects of the paintings and i a natural introduction into a conversation asking children what they would paint better than anyone else.

van Gogh Easter Eggs

easter craft This post was supposed to be about monogrammed eggs. We were going to use a white crayon to make our initials on the egg and then paint. Totally didn’t work. The painted wood eggs we got simply were too smooth for the crayon wax to stick well, I should have grabbed the unfinished ones. So we’ll try that again next year, instead this post evolved from our failure.  As I told my son to just paint them however he wanted he said ” Look I am making swirls like van Gogh!”  So we grabbed one of the few art books that is not already in storage while we sell the house and looked at some of his art. After talking about the colors and how ” Gloppy” his paint was on the canvas we added more paint to the eggs and made a few more swirls.  This was so much fun to do and you could easily adapt it to various artists. Paint small dots for George Seurat, splatter paint them for Jackson Pollack,  do large color blocks for Mark Rothko or even cut some collage paper and modge podge it on for Matisse!  The variations are endless. I think I am going to make this a Easter tradition grabbing a few eggs every year and choosing an artist to use as inspiration. After a few years we will have our own collection of masterpiece eggs.

For this project we used pre painted white wood eggs from Micheal’s , acrylic paint and paint brushes. Ignore the crayons that was a big old flop!

Fine Art Activities

Going to the art museum, a local gallery or even an exhibit at a community college are all great ways to expose your child to fine art. Most have free days if they aren’t always free to visit. Here is a collection of fine art activities we have done here at No Time For Flash Cards.

Matisse Inspired Scrap Paper Collage (above)

Kandinsky Inspired Creation

Jackson Pollack Inspired Splatter!

DIY Great Wave off Kawagawa

Pointillism Lesson

Make Your Own Play Museum

Need some books about fine art too ? Check these out.