kid crafts: learning about abstract art!

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i’m so excited to have jen from jen loves kev here today sharing some craft ideas for kids! i love browsing her blog for ideas because she is constantly coming up with and executing the best indoor activities and crafts for her little ones.  these next few months of cold winter are always the toughest for me with my little ones at home because it’s too cold to get out as often as we usually do, so i’m always looking for new ideas of things to do inside together.  i asked jen for a few ideas and i’m excited to share them with you here! thanks so much, jen!
jen says,
“The winter is in full force up here in the Northeast. If your kids are anything like mine they’re going a bit (majorly!) stir crazy. I’ve made it a goal to do one craft/creative project a day ’til we can get back outside again. Nothing super fancy, but something that passes the time, creates fun memories and let’s us get our hands dirty. Since I used to teach art before my daughter was born, I love to incorporate art history into some of the projects. I keep it sweet and simple so she can understand, but I love adding context to what we’re creating that day.
Today I wanted to share a super fun and easy painting project you can do with your children. Before we started, I sat Rowan down and we talked about abstract expressionism. You don’t have to be an art history buff to teach your kids about art. There are hundreds of lessons online if you google them. I pulled out an old art history text book, but you could just as easily pull up some pictures from the internet. We talked about how abstract expression is art that is created with no subject matter. The artwork is made only using lines, shapes and color. Then we talked about the fact that even though there is no subject (objects or pictures), that the pictures are still trying to tell a story or emotion. I showed Rowan a few pictures of artwork by Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Wassily Kandinsky, and Jackson Pollock. I asked her what she thought each picture was about. Her answers were super cute and even quite insightful.
Below I have listed the materials and directions for you and your kids to make your own abstract art as well.
  • paint
  • paint brushes
  • canvas boards
  • art history book (or computer if you just want to pull up some pictures to view)


1. After you’ve talked about abstract art and looked at a few examples with your kids, ask them how they are feeling. Rowan said she was feeling very tired that morning (we had been up very late the night before). I asked what colors she thought represented those feelings. She picked out blues, greens and grey.
2. With the colors your kid chooses, let them drip dots of paint over the canvas board. Next, talk about what kind of lines or brush strokes you think would represent the emotion they are feeling. Rowan told me she thought swirls and rounded shapes because they would be like her dreams swirling around. (Isn’t it so fun to hear what they come up with?)
3. Give them a handful of paint brushes to use. Explain that they will be using the paint dripped on the canvas board to mix, swirl and blend all the colors together to create a painting of their emotion. Try to help them not mix too much in one area. (I know all kids like to mix everything until it’s that yucky brown color.) Guide them around the canvas and switch out to a new brush if one becomes to overloaded with paint.
4. Have fun with them! Talk about the picture as they are making it. Let them get paint all over. Messy is good! That’s the fun of abstract art!!
5. Rowan decided for her second painting she wanted to paint a picture of how she felt playing at a friend’s birthday party. I think she nailed it!
6. Best part… when the paintings are dried they are these gorgeous little pieces of artwork that you can use to decorate your home! Every time I look at the painting it makes me smile thinking about her trying to capture how happy she feels being at a party playing with her friends. So cute!!
p.s. This is great for younger siblings, too. They may not understand the art lesson as you talk to your older ones, but you better believe they will love to push paint around and get messy!! Yay for art!”
thanks so much, jen!  see more craft ideas for kiddos here, on her blog.
also, some art supplies similar to what is shown above…. kids paint brushes, and paint (neon paint colors, too!) and a white canvas.
  1. hanna

    That is sooo cute. –Hanna Lei

  2. carly

    Painting with a tot is so much fun! Me and my little one paint regularly. Another fun idea is to buy the magnet tape and make mini paintings that become magnets for friends and family
    Dresses & Denim

  3. V

    Perfect idea for a cold wintery day at home!

    We need all the ideas we can get to avoid cabin fever. :o)

    L I F E +1

  4. What a great project! And a great way to get a kid to associate feelings with art!

  5. Kelsey

    Gah! I did something very similar with my 3 kiddos last spring. Their canvases all turned out so amazing. Take a peek :)

    My son was a few days into being 2, my middle daughter was 3, and my oldest was 8 when they did this project. SO FUN! And I love how they turned out. The girls’ canvases are still over our TV in the living room and my son’s is still above his bed.

  6. Emily

    What a fun learning activity! And bonus: cute art work that you can save and display as a sweet memory.


  7. Krista

    I love this! I have several pieces of my son’s art framed around our home from when he was one. I love them and think they’re so special. I love this idea.

  8. This looks so fun! I am an elementary school teacher and love teaching art. This could totally be adapted for older kids too. Thanks for sharing!

  9. that blue one is really pretty :)

  10. jemima

    That looks very…restrained. My kids go nuts with art!

  11. Eden

    They produced beautiful works of art! They will love looking back on this one day. It’s so important to let creativity flow :)

  12. Chelsea

    wow I love this!! We paint often but I never thought to discuss a feeling or emotion and incorporating that- thank you so much for sharing and the great reccomendations!

  13. Bonnie H.

    I just perused jen loves kev’s blog. I love her. Such a cute family and she is so creative! Speaking of cabin fever, we get it bad here in the Northwest. There are so many grey sky days that you can’t help but feel lack of motivation. To remedy this, I just yesterday booked a flight to Singapore and Vietnam! It’s always sunny on the other side. I’m having trouble finding a good pair of sandals. My question to you is, do you love your Birkenstocks? you wore them in Southern Utah? I was just wondering if they worked out for you in the heat?

    • TAZA

      yes! love them! they are really comfortable and worked great in hot summer weather. have so much fun on your trip!

  14. So amazing, stimulating, and good for your kids! Exposing them positive ways to express themselves and learn more about culture and the world- they are lucky!

    Warm Regards,

  15. Carmel

    We so often ask about about what our children create after they’ve finished. Being involved in the process and asking them to express and talk as they go is a such a simple way of connecting with them. Great approach.

  16. Emilee

    What a fun project! I can’t wait to do this with my daughter when she gets older.

  17. Tracy

    I still paint with one of my daughters!

  18. Pingback: Learning about ART | FARO

  19. Maria

    This is just absolutely fantastic. I love how this isn’t just a post about art, but it digs into psychology and truly getting to know your children better. This is by far my favorite DIY post I have seen! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Hey Naomi! Playing with kids is so much fun. I do such kind of activities with my nephew. Try cutting different vegetables and dipping them in water colours. It will make a different colourful pattern.