How many of us say ‘I can’t draw’?
I’m certainly one of them – I was terrified of paint as a child, remember hiding my drawings at the bottom of the scrap paper tray at school and being embarrassed by my lack of skills.
Watching children make their first efforts is fascinating, but how do we move them forward from the pictures of houses and figures with large hands?
Here is a selection of products I have chosen for 5-10 year olds – the age where they are gaining confidence, finding their style and when it is so important to give them successes. I hope you like them.
Stencils and stamps
A great way to create a picture is to give children a hand when starting. Draw around a stencil or make a mark with a good quality stamp and then allow children to create the rest of the picture. This means that they are not starting from scratch and that at least one thing on the page will be something that they are pleased with.
Djeco make a great range of stamps – they are detailed enough to give a good image and you can also colour them in and invent around.
Paint with stickers
Children all seem to love stickers but once they are stuck, they can be a bit dull and you really don’t want them all over your house!
However, give them a purpose and you are creating fabulous pictures. These books give you pre-cut stickers with templates to put them on. Careful application means that you build up a picture that has beautiful colour contrasts that you can be really proud of. There are 10 pictures that will appeal to all children and even an adult version.
Be confident with colour
Aquarellum is an excellent way to allow children to experiment with inks in a controlled way. Each of the pictures is outlined in wax – this repels the ink ensuring that you only paint in the area you want to. As they are inks, they mix well together, dry really quickly and as the wax is still there, you can then continue to add colours on top.
Each set comes with a mixing pallet, pipettes and brushes with four large pictures to paint. Children get such a great end product without the stress of painting from scratch.
For many children, a blank piece of paper is quite threatening – where do you start and what happens if you go wrong? There are a large number of doodle books around – they give you a starting point for invention and often enough of the picture so that you can add with confidence.
A couple of favourites are the Super Book for Super Heroes the My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook both full of wacky ideas.
Finish a fantastic picture
Having a whole picture finished is a real milestone. However, when is a picture finished? Give them something that can be completed in a series of steps to create a whole product.
Djeco are the masters of this. Their art kits give children everything they need to experiment with a technique with simple instructions and enough materials to carry on experimenting once the project is finished.
The coloured sand and glitter kits work particularly well. Here, you peel away the sticky labels which leaves the glue exactly where you need it, shake on the coloured sands and then shake the rest away to leave the picture. The box has even been created with a slot to pour the excess back in the containers. I was really impressed with the instructions and the end product looked fantastic. I made a little mess, but it was really worth it.
Teaching drawing techniques
Like many other things in life, there are things to learn about drawing and we don’t just pick them up without someone showing us. There are many how to draw books out there, but this is my favourite.
Sachiko Umoto is one of Japan’s favourite artists. This book shows step by step approaches to drawing a huge range of different pictures and is accompanied by a top quality set of art paper. Each page relates to a page in the how to draw book, building up a portfolio of your own work. Children will love the way the ideas have been presented and be encouraged to have a go.
I love finding different ways for children to have a go at painting and drawing, here are some of my top tips:
- Give them a guide – you don’t need to lock the picture down but giving some starting points will get them going
- Explore different media – always starting with a pencil can be dull, particularly if you are finding pencils difficult, try making colours in other ways like rubbing grass on paper to see what will happen
- Draw with them – it’s always fun to compare
- Focus on quality – let the children know that a picture is only finished when they are pleased with it – ask them what they are pleased with…