Using Soft Pastels to Make Bursts of Color, Another Fun and Easy Art Activity for Creative Kids

Today’s art activity uses soft pastels (sometimes called chalk pastels) to make bursts of color inside or outside various shapes.

This is another activity that can be easily adapted for both younger and older children. Encourage older children to make more complex shapes and plan different color choices.

I’m also continuing with the 2 new sections at the end of the lesson to help you extend art learning into other areas:

  • How this art lesson can help your children’s physical and mental growth for achievement in other school subjects.
  • How this art lesson can help point your children to God.


  • Scrap paper to make shapes
  • Colored paper for the actual designs
  • Soft pastels in various colors  (colored chalk will also work, but won’t have as vibrant colors
  • Pencils, scissors, tape
  • Lots of tissues

Clean up Note: Put down an old plastic table cloth or something similar because pastels are pretty dusty and messy! To cut down on the dust and make clean up easier, wipe up excess chalk particles with a dry tissue as you work. Do not blow the dust away unless outside on a nonwindy day!


  1. Draw various shapes and creatures on the scrap papers
  2. Cut the shapes out, trying to keep the outside paper together as much as possible.
  3. Keep both the cut out shape and the paper you cut it from. If necessary tape the outside shape back together. Use the tape on just one side as pastels don’t stick well to tape.            
  4. Choose a background paper, and pastel colors that will show up on that background
  5. If using the cut out shape, lay down patches of pastel colors all around the outside of the shape
  6. If using the paper you cut the shape from, lay down the pastel colors around the opening
  7. Place the pastel-colored paper in the center of your background paper
  8. Holding the pastel-colored paper in place, (or tape it) use a tissue around your finger to push the colors out onto the background paper
  9. Carefully pick up the pastel-colored paper to reveal your design. If excess dust gets on the actual picture, don’t use tissues to rub it. Tap the paper edge against your work surface. And just consider any that is left part of your design. Here are a couple of my designs done the two different ways.

Experiment with layering colors. Pastels are wonderful for achieving color blends.

Variations and Extensions:

  • Try making some smaller shapes and overlap the color bursts as you move the shapes around your background paper
  • Cut a strip of paper in a wavy line, lay down patches of color, push these off onto a background paper. Move the wavy paper down a little and repeat the process. Use this variation to create buildings, (just make rectangular shapes) the aurora borealis for a winter scene or just a cool design!!

 1.  How this art lesson can help your children’s physical and mental growth for achievement in other school subjects:

Once children have done one of these pastel creations, they’ll begin to be able visualize the shapes before they’re revealed.  This sort of art activity, therefore, helps develop visual/spatial skills and how to understand and use visual information—important in learning to interpret photos, graphs, maps, etc.  

2.  How this art lesson can help point your children to God:  Molly and I saw a double rainbow a few days ago. You could see them stretching all the way across the sky, and they lasted a good 15 minutes!

Actually I should say I saw the rainbows, because the rain came with some thunder, and Molly is terrified of thunder! She wears a thundershirt during thunderstorms, but it only helps her a little. so here she is looking out and hoping for the rain to stop. The snuggly shirt makes her ruff stand out!

But God promises you that He will always be with you and help you when you’re afraid.

  1. Together read the story of Noah, the flood, and the sign of the rainbow that God gave to Noah.
  2. Have fun thinking of all the animals that clambered two by two aboard the ark. Choose a favorite and draw and cut it out.
  3. Lay down the colors of the rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet—around the creature.
  4. Discuss how a rainbow is such a wonderful sign that our God is always faithful to keep His promises.

Molly is recovered now and has her artist beret on, so she and I hope you will meet us back here next week for Another Fun and Easy Art Activity for Creative Kids!

Warm and Cool Color Blends, A Fun and Easy Art Project for Creative Kids

This week we’ll take making tints of the same color one step further to make warm and cool color blends. It’s lots of fun to mix a couple colors and see how many different blends you can get.

I’ve added 2 new sections at the end of this lesson to help you extend art learning into other areas. Be sure to look at:

  • How this art lesson can help your children in other areas of learning:
  • How this art lesson can help point your children to God:

I’ll also show you how you can adapt this project for older and younger children. So let’s have some fun making art!


  • White construction paper, larger sheets for backgrounds as well as scraps
  • Pencils, scissors, crayons
  • Tempera paints
  • Various sizes of brushes, Q tips
  • glue or tape

Directions for the Warm Fish:

Older children

  1.      Draw a fish or 2 on paper scraps
  2.      Draw interior designs on the fish. If you wish, outline lines in crayon to help paint stay in spaces.
  3.      Gradually mix yellow and red, paint the fish with these blends. I painted one fish in blends from yellow at its nose through oranges to red at its tail. On the other fish I just spaced the different blends around the fish.
  4.      Let dry and flatten, then cut out your fish

Younger children

  1.      Allow them to enjoy mixing warm blends and painting these on a paper
  2.      Let dry and draw a fish on these later to cut out


Directions for Cool Water:

Older children

  1.      Draw wavy lines to make spaces on your larger background paper
  2.      Mix blues and greens and purples to paint inside these spaces. Space your blends around the paper to create a pleasing pattern of lights and darks.   (If you paint around the edges of a space first, you can fill it in quickly and more smoothly)
  3.      Let dry and flatten

Younger children

  1.      Allow children to enjoy mixing blends of cool colors and painting these all over the background paper


  1. Glue or tape your warm fish to the cool background and enjoy the resulting contrast!!
  2. Add some bubbles with white paint and Q tips if you wish

How this art lesson can help your children in other areas of learning:

  1. For many children mixing the paints to see how many different blends they can get is as much fun as the actual painting!! Mixing paint and discovering these fosters better observation skills! Have lots of scrap paper and paper towels, and enjoy the process!!
  2. Using the tools of art such as paint brushes and pencils and scissors helps develop fine motor skills.
  3. Cutting with scissors is often an especially hard skill for children to master, but so helpful for when they go to school. If your child is really struggling with this skill, try the loop scissors pictured here. One pair works for either right-handed or left-handed children and they are available in blunt or sharp points. In my art room, they’re a favorite with all my students, younger and older!!


How this art lesson can help point your children to God:

  1. On walks or in your yard, have children find all the different greens, from light yellow greens of new leaves and grass to darker bluish greens of pines and older leaves!
  2. Get up close with flowers and see how God often blends darker colors and lighter colors on the flower.
  3. Look at how colors change from sunlight to shade.
  4. Look up at the sky and see how the blues change from day to day, depending on clouds and time of day.
  5. Look closely at a pond or lake or the ocean and name all the colors you see.
  6. Pause and thank God for providing such a colorful world for us to enjoy!

Molly and I hope you have fun mixing paint and observing all the color variations God has created out in nature!

Be sure to come back next week for another Fun and Easy Art Project for Creative Kids!

Ice Cream Cone Tints: a Fun and Easy Art Project for Creative Kids

Who doesn’t like ice cream? Here’s a Fun and Easy Art Project that helps children learn to make tints with paint.

We make tints by adding white to a color—the more white, the lighter the tint.  In this project children will mix several different tints of one color and paint each tint on a square of paper. After the squares dry, children will draw the shape of a scoop of ice cream on each square and cut these out to make their ice cream cones.


Note: even quite young children can do this project with only a little help with the drawing and cutting. Their painting doesn’t have to be exact since they can just enjoy painting the squares.


  • Any color tempera paint and white tempera paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Small containers or plastic covers for mixing tints
  • Sturdy white paper cut in squares
  • Background papers of any color and scraps for cone and cherry
  • Pencils, scissors, crayons or markers
  • Glue

Painting Directions:

  1. Put your “flavor” of paint—red for strawberry, green for mint chocolate chip, etc on a lid
  2. Put some white paint on that lid or another (don’t mix them until step 4)
  3. Paint one square with the pure color
  4. Mix a very little of the color into the white to make your lightest tint (mix the color into the white, not the other way round, as that would take way more white to lighten the color. It still always amazes me how little color it takes to make a tint!)
  5. Paint another square with this tint
  6. Keep mixing more of your color into the white to make darker and darker tints that you paint on squares (I did just 3 tints for each color, but you can do more, if you like)
  7. Let the squares dry (you may need to flatten them under some books once they’re dry)

Assembly Directions:

  1. While your squares are drying, you can make an ice cream cone and a cherry for the top of your scoops. The cherry is a circle shape, and the cone is a long triangle shape with 2 straight lines that come to a point). (use white paper scraps and color or use scraps of colored paper for these)
  2. Cut these out
  3. Also while you wait, draw a paper pattern for cutting out your ice cream scoops (it has a circular top and a puffy cloud shape along the bottom)
  4. Trace around this pattern on the back of each of your squares and cut these scoops out
  5. Assemble your ice cream cone on the background as if you worked in an ice cream shop (Start by gluing down the cone then add each scoop of ice cream so it overlaps the one below it)
  6. Last of all glue the cherry at the top
  7. With marker or crayon you may add chocolate chips to the mint ice cream

Voila, enjoy your ice cream cones!!

Molly’s Suggestion:

Nothing says love like a handmade card, and these make wonderful birthday cards for family and friends! Just make everything a little smaller so the cone fits on the front of a folded card. You may decorate your card first with confetti, streamers, or balloons, then glue the ice cream cone on top of these. Write a message inside and mail!

Note: If you do decide to make several of these, just paint larger squares so you can cut out more scoops from each square.

Molly and I hope to see you right back here next week for another Fun and Easy Art Project for Creative Kids!

Sunday is Mother’s Day. Be sure to tell Mom you love her!


Painting with Straws to Make Crazy Critters and Much More! Another Fun and Easy Art Project for Kids

This week we’re going to use straws to make Crazy Critters and so much more–combining a little drawing with straw painting to make:

Fuzzy hair for a Happy Clown, Fabulous Feathers for a Peacock, a Lion’s Colorful Mane


  • Construction-type paper, pencils, scissors, etc.
  • Runny paint, either watercolors (add lots of pigment) or add some water to tempera paints
  • Containers, brushes, spoons, paper towels, etc.

Let’s get started with Crazy Critters

  1. Use a spoon or loaded brush to put a puddle of paint on your paper
  2. Use your straw to blow the paint in different directions  Note: It works best if you get down and blow ACROSS the paint puddles
  3. Add more paint as needed
  4. You can add different colors and let them blend
  5. Let dry and add details to make creatures

Now draw a Happy Clown and give him or her Fuzzy Hair!

  1. Draw a circle for the clown’s face
  2. Use smaller circles and curvy lines to finish his face
  3. Use straight lines and another circle shape to draw his hat
  4. Apply paint puddles around the sides of the clown’s head  Note: it’s best to apply the paint on just one side at a time as paint dries quickly. This applies to the peacock and lion, too. Apply the paint and blow it outward in  small sections at a time.
  5. Use a straw to blow the paint outward to create Fuzzy Hair for your Happy Clown!
  6. Let dry and color the clown’s face and hat


Now draw a Peacock and add Fabulous Feathers

  1. Draw a small circle for the peacock’s head
  2. A little below the head draw a larger circle for its body
  3. Connect the head and body with curvy lines for a skinny neck
  4. Use curvy lines to make small wings on each side of the body
  5. Use straight lines to draw long legs and some toes
  6. Working gradually around the body and head, and sometimes changing colors, apply paint puddles and blow these outward to create the Peacock’s Fabulous Tail!
  7. Let dry and color your peacock’s body


Now draw a Lion’s head and give him a Colorful Mane

  1. Draw a longish, curvy circle for the lion’s head
  2. Draw 2 small circles and dots for eyes
  3. For its nose draw 2 straight lines down from the eyes
  4. A ways below the eyes connect these 2 lines with a roundish nose
  5. On each side of the nose draw a circle for the lion’s cheeks
  6. Finish the lion off with curvy eyebrows and ears
  7. Working gradually around the body and head, and sometimes changing colors, apply paint puddles and blow these outward to create the Lion’s Colorful Mane!
  8. Let dry and color your lion

For this last picture I went back and added more yellow paint to the lion’s mane and only blew it out a little to create a fuller mane than the original one.

Molly and I are sure you can think of other creatures to draw and add paint to with your straw. How about the blowing mane of a running horse, or wings for a butterfly?

It’s lots of fun to experiment with Straw Painting!  And you can use any left over paint to make more crazy critters!

Molly and I hope to see you right back here next Friday for Another Fun and Easy Art Project for Kids!

Meanwhile, go back and try this Mother’s Day project from a post on May 11, 2019, for a great Mother’s Day project titled Children’s Art Project for Mother’s Day, Inspired by Monet’s Love of Flowers



Painting with Cardboard, Another Fun and Easy Art Project for Kids

Did you know you can use cardboard to paint with? You can, and you can make lots of Easy and Fun things, like:

Mama and baby pigs in the straw.    Flowers and butterflies.      Fuzzy yellow chicks.

Spring was a favorite time on our small farm in Maine. We’d have baby pigs and goats out in the barn, and in the kitchen there was always a box of baby chicks or ducks warming up by the wood stove. Spring refreshes us with returning color and creatures, and this year we all certainly need some refreshment, so I hope these easy projects will brighten your day this coming week!



  • tempera paints in various colors ( I lightened my red and purple to pink and lilac with white)
  • pieces of cardboard cut to various sizes
  • paper to paint on and scraps to finish the chick
  • pencils, scissors, crayons, and/or markers

Painting Technique:

There are just two techniques used to make these creatures and flowers. After dipping the edge of your cardboard into some paint,

  1. Make straight lines by touching the cardboard up and down onto the paper
  2. While holding the cardboard edge against the paper, you swirl or push it around, while holding one corner in place. It takes a little practice, but you can even make a complete circle this way. Try turning the paper as you hold the cardboard in place.

Note: The size of your creation will depend on the size of your cardboard. And after a while you may need to switch to a new piece as the paint will gradually make it less stiff.

Butterflies and Flowers

These use both techniques: up and down for the spikey flowers, grass, and butterfly body. A swirl for the other flowers and the butterfly wings. On one flower I had both  pink and lilac on the cardboard, without mixing themand I think it produced an interesting effect. Maybe you can try more of that.

Fuzzy Chick

The chick just uses lots of up and down lines around and around in a circle. I put a small pencil dot to mark the middle so I had a reference point to keep going in a circle. Use paper scraps and crayons or markers to finish your chick. Try making different sizes and colors of chicks.

Mama Pig and Her Babies

Steps for the piggies:

  1. Use your drawing skills to draw a circle for Mamma and 2 small ovals for the babies.Just as you did in the last drawing lesson!
  2. Inside each pig, draw a small oval for its snout
  3. Use curving lines to draw ears and tail
  4. Use straight lines that turn sharp corners to make the feet.
  5. Color the pigs using light and dark shades of pink markers or crayons
  6. Use the up and down technique to ad straw all around the mamma pig and her babies

Here are two more ideas:

  • Use orange paint and the swirl technique to make a bunch of carrots. Add feathery green tops with crayon or marker.
  • Or how about baby birds in a nest of brown  twigs?

Molly is enjoying the garden we now have in Colorado. It’s much smaller than the one we had in Maine!! The bright pink flowers in the front are very spikey, while the daisies and cone flowers have much broader petals and could be done with the swirling method.

Mollye and I are sure you can think of lots more creative creatures and pictures to make with your cardboard paintbrush! Have Fun and be sure to come back here next Friday for more Easy and Fun Art for Kids !


Drawing Lessons for Children

Okay so here we go with the second part of the drawing lesson for younger children and another technique that can help older children draw more accurately.

For younger children

Review the types of lines–straight, curved, straight lines that turn corners, and curved lines that form circular shapes.

Now I’ll draw 5 things step-by-step that use these lines:

































Now you try the same type of steps to draw this owl from the first doodle game! You can do it!

For Older Children

Here’s how to do Contour Drawing, which is almost the opposite of Gesture Drawing.

 Contour drawing helps artists look carefully at details. Like gesture drawing, it’s not meant to be a finished artwork, but to help you look more carefully at your subject. Here are some contour drawings of a flower.  Look how different these look from the gesture drawings we did of hands a couple weeks ago.

You slow way down for contour drawing. Your eye follows every small detail, and your pencil tries to follow along on your paper. You don’t sketch as in gesture drawing, but move your pencil along as if it is a snail inching along every line. You should spend lots more time looking at the subject than at your paper!



Molly doesn’t draw flowers. She smells them!! But she hopes you’ll enjoy these drawing lessons and come back next Friday for a Painting Project!

How to Look at Landscapes with Your Children

Just a reminder from Molly and me: a new art project for children (the next one in the drawing series) coming on Friday! She’s taking a snooze while she waits, but she suggests

 you enjoy this earlier post on The Hay Wain: Tricks Artists Use to Catch and Hold Your Attention.

Using The Hay Wain, a beautiful landscape painting, this post will show you tricks artists use to catch your attention and then move your eyes around to take in all the details—often without you even realizing it!

Here is a link to the National Gallery page where you can look at and enlarge different sections of The Hay Wain so you can get an idea of how this very large painting has so many spaces and things to explore.

First–getting your attention:  Most paintings have something the artist wants you to notice first. It may be the face of the sitter in a portrait or a particular flower or object in a still life. Landscape artists may choose to focus on a tree or a sunset, or haystacks as Monet did in his haystack series. Whatever it is, it’s called the focal point.

In The Hay Wain Constable has used red to focus your attention on his focal point–the wagon and horses. The horses’ harnesses have bright red fringe. Artists use red for this purpose so often, that you can often just look for that color to find the focal point of many paintings.

Artists also use other things to call attention to the focal point.

  • A central position
  • Larger size
  • Up close
  • The title of the painting!!
  • People in a painting may all look toward or even point to the focus
  • Bright colors or pattern in addition to, or instead of, red
  • Light and shadow contrasts

Activity:  Which of the above techniques did Constable use in addition to red to facus your attention on the wagon and horses?

Second, once you’ve noticed the focal point, artists use more tricks to move your attention on to other parts of their work.

The Hay Wain by John Constable, public domain

1. Related or similar colors throughout a painting draw your eyes onward

Activity: What object in The Hay Wain has colors related to red?  Yes, the roofs of the cottage, which may have actually caught your attention first. But it’s kind of a back and forth thing between the roofs and the wagon and horses, so your attention goes back and forth, too.

2. Similar shapes can move your eyes around also

Activity: Notice how the large tree shapes lead your eyes back to the smaller trees in the background. They seem to march from large trees on the left, to medium ones in the middle, to small ones in the background on the right, but all have  a similar shape, so they create movement around the painting.

3. Lines can move your eyes around, and stop you from wandering off the canvas.

Activity: Follow the diagonal line of the wagon and horses as it points toward the left. Do you see how that could take your attention right out of the painting? Now trace with your eyes the curve of the pond and see how Constable has used the curve to move your attention back to the center. Try not to follow it. You can’t!!

4. Speaking of that curve. Landscape artists often use a curving path, road, or stream to lead your attention back into their painting. Here Molly and I are following a path, and you can see how your eye follows it with us.

Activity: In the Hay Wain notice how the millpond narrows and curves back into the scene. Some of it curves around the house, but the lighter, more noticeable, section curves toward the far field. It’s as if you could walk along that path right into the painting!

5. Light and shadow also move our attention around. The sunlit parts of the pond move our eyes to the light on the house and back to the sunlit field.

                         Though this series of posts about The Hay Wain painting hasn’t had a hands-on art project, here are some more Molly-recommended activities to enjoy with your children!

(Some are specific to landscapes, while others can be used with many subjects)

1. Strap on your backpack and take an imaginary walk or boat ride into the painting. What would you need to wear or take for the weather?

2. While on your walk or boat ride, tell what you would see, smell, hear, feel, and if appropriate–taste!!    (warm sun, bees buzzing, scratchy hay, cool water, soft grass, etc.)

3. How does the painting make you feel–happy, sad, peaceful, excited, afraid, etc?

4. What kind of colors does the painting have? warm or cool?  calm and peaceful or electric and exciting?

5. Have children go on a scavenger hunt to find things in the painting: colors, textures, certain people or objects or other creatures. Find a curvy, wavy, straight, or zigzag line. Find circles, rectangles, triangles, etc. (these don’t have to be mathematically perfect shapes. This is ART!!)

6. Look at the lady getting water, the dog, or the person in the bushes and make up a story about them.  Do any of them live in the house? Are there any children, and if so, what sort of jobs would they have?

7. Tell a story about the duck family.

8. What animals will the hay feed over the winter?

9. What are some other ways people in the painting are caring for their animals?

10. What are some things we see in this painting that show how God cares for our daily needs?

I hope you have fun exploring The Hay Wain yourself and with your children! Let me know which activity you or your children especially enjoyed.

For all those out there who love horses as I do, I’ve written a devotion for this painting, called Devotion for The Hay Wain posted on 10/25/19 that centers on those three patient and powerful black horses!