When starting young children painting it is ideal to get them to paint on an easel. When an easel isn’t available you can attach the paper to a wall. Both allow full shoulder movement for large expressive stroke
↓ Step-by-step instructions are at the bottom of the page ↓
When children first hold a paintbrush they love the feeling of applying the paint. They also enjoy the challenge of returning the brush to the pot for more paint. The first thing that is required is that the paint flows.
It can happen that after just one minute of trying each colour the child is “done”. Has he lost interest? Whatever the parent says the child is certain that this is all he is willing to try. This first session is over. There is no need to encourage the child further, as it does not prompt more attempts at painting.
Don’t give up because there are many things you can do to keep the interest alive.
First, accept the indication that he is “done” and leave it for another day. After several of these short sessions you could try attaching a second sheet of paper beside where the child is working so you can paint yourself. When he has made a start you can make some marks on your own painting and talk and sing as you paint. You then become the link between the material and the child.
You can say things like, “Dip! Dip! Dip! – while dipping the brush in the pot.
“I’m making a long line, I’m making a high line, wriggly line, bumpy line” etc., pulling the brush to make the lines.
“Dot! Dot! Dot!” – making other marks and changing colours as you go.
Sing and talk about what you are painting while looking at your painting, rather than taking a great deal of interest in the child’s work. When someone is judging his work he’ll feel intimidated.
The talking goes on like, “I’m making a bird, a mountain, a mummy and this is a baby, and this is a swing” etc. Your attempts are more like doodling and not making recognisable images.
By talking in this way you are encouraging him to talk about his picture. This is the beginning of the development of the symbolic stage.
I explain the difference between symbolic and recognisable or representative art in a previous blog;
“How To Start Kids With Art” .
At first, only give young beginner painters the three primary colours, red, yellow and blue.
After some time introduce the secondary colours orange, green and purple.
As you paint regularly the sessions will last longer. After some experience with the secondary colours, you can introduce the word “dark”.
This coincides with adding a pot of dark colour such as dark purple or dark brown to the paint tray. This dark colour gives a contrast that is pleasing and boosts his interest further.
The aim of offering painting to young children is to allow the development of their thoughts and imagination.
Parents often show children a short cut or symbol to represent the sky, a house and the sun etc. For example, sausage men, stick men and other formulae are used widely in schools. It seems harmless, but these shapes and ideas can be imprinted permanently on the young child’s receptive mind.
Don’t attempt to rush the child into representative figures and objects because it’s not appropriate at an early age. They need to experiment with the materials and link them to their imagination. That’s where the value is, as they learn to work out problems in their own way.
- Use large sheets of paper such as A1 size – 594 x 841 mm or 23.4 x 33.1 in.
- The child attaches the paper, finds the apron and puts the brushes in the paint pots in preparation for painting.
- The artist stands at the easel, in good light with long-handled brushes in the pots of paint.
- Secure the paint pots in a holding tray.
- The tray is on a low table beside and not directly under the easel.
- A rag is within reach so the artist can manage drips.
- A bowl of water and a towel is ready to wash hands
- Mix the paints so they flow easily.
Give your child regular access to painting and enjoy watching him express himself – which is what art is all about.