Exploring Art with Toddlers: Inspiration Painting

exploring art with toddlers - a simple indoor painting set up

I feel like I always have to preface our art activities by saying, “I am not an artist.  I have never even taken an art class.”  I guess I feel like I need to say that because the art projects we end of up doing with our toddler are so simple and yet, I find them profound!  Our oldest girl has taken lately to calling herself a good artist.  And she simply cannot get enough of art projects, paint, chalk, etc.  She is always game for an afternoon project with paint.  As such, I have found that I really have to push myself to create opportunities to explore art with her.  The local library was hosting a story and art time at the local mall this summer and we got to go a couple of times (we found out late in the summer about it).  And that spark of creativity that she has was reignited by some simple art projects we have been doing at home.

The most recent one started as a pointillism project and ended up quite different.  But one of the things I have learned is to let her (the true artist) lead our art sessions.  The materials I gathered together were clothes pins, pom poms, and three colors of paint (on small paper plates).

I laid out some pieces of construction paper on a plastic shower liner (our drop cloth for art projects indoors) and set G in front of the sliding glass back door.

She started making dots on her paper and talking about dots and was enjoying putting paint to paper in somewhat straight lines.

Then we heard a dog bark

and a bird sing

and suddenly

we were looking outside.

We noticed the wind brushing the leaves on our neighbor’s tree

and….suddenly…we had the inspiration we needed.

exploring art with toddlers, finding inspiration

I asked G if she would like to paint a picture of the tree we were looking at using her dots.  And so she did!  As she did it, I painted my own picture of the tree and we talked about how we were drawing the tree.

This may seem like such a simple art exploration, but in this process we learned a number of things.  The biggest one was to start looking around us for inspiration in our art.  All the great artists start with painting the world around them: still life, landscape, portraits.  And if G is going to be an artist, she needs to be observing the world and translating what she sees onto her canvas (whatever the material may be).

exploring art with toddlers, painting a tree

We will not always paint with an inspiration in front of us, some art projects may be more free form and unfocused.  But this project was so neat for both of us to be working with the same inspiration and get completely different results.   It gave me a new window for our art sessions and taught me to be willing to jump off the script and explore new territory.

exploring art with toddlers - toddler's version exploring art with toddlers - mama's version


Do you like to explore art with toddlers?  What do you love about it?

exploring art with toddlers, finding inspiration from the world around you

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Liz M

    I love her interpretation of the tree-so cute! And you are so right, art is so much better when you let them do their thing!

    1. ussleah

      I love watching her do her thing! She has much better instincts than I do!

  2. Love this! Such great insight into exploring art. And absolutely love her hat! Where did you find it? Thanks for sharing at the Love to Learn Linky. We happily featured you 🙂

    1. ussleah

      Thank you so much, Anne! Her hat was a gift and I tried to find a similar one and I couldn’t find a similar one. Sorry to not be able to help you. Thanks for the feature!

  3. Stacie

    I think you both did a fantastic job. Sometimes it is just nice to let them lead. I love her interpretation of the tree.

    1. ussleah

      Thanks, Stacie! We do have lots of fun with our art projects and she just LOVES to do art!

  4. Nicola

    I love it when my kids take our art sessions into new directions which i have usually never even thought off when i started the activity with them! It’s great for their confidence to create from their own ideas. #virtualrefrigerator

    1. ussleah

      I honestly depend on our girl taking it where she wants to go because I truly do not have an artistic bone in my body. But she loves it, so she can definitely lead it!

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