Ultimate Guide To Learning To Paint For Kids And Teens

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No matter what their interests are, kids seem to love nothing more than to get messy and creative with paint and colour.

Like any skill, there are lots of ways to take this interest further and develop your child's drawing and painting abilities so they feel comfortable exploring their creative side, and maybe even develop a passion for art! This compilation of lessons, exercises and tips will keep kids occupied for hours, and have them creating anything from finger paintings to self-portraits.

Each of these lessons contains examples of how you can adapt the techniques used to suit any age and lots of tips and tricks to get the most out of each activity. So, grab your paintbrushes, and let's get creative!

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Learning About Colour

Learning about colour for the learning to paint guide kids

Understanding the relationships between different colours is an important building block when learning how to paint.

Under 5s: Cut shapes out of cellophane sheets in primary colours (red, yellow and blue). Then, let your child play with the shapes and see for themselves the way each colour interacts to make something new.

Ages 5-8: Introduce the idea of secondary colours by giving kids primary coloured paints, and asking them to mix them up in different ways and paint a picture!

Ages 8+: Inspired by the French artist Georges Seurat who famously painted only using small dots of paint, ask your child to make a picture using only dots of colour, in the 'Pointillist' style! This way they can see how small sections of colour can make up something completely different when seen from a distance.

No-Eraser Drawing Activity

Colouring, no-eraser drawing activity for learning to paint guide kids

Most children are used to drawing using mainly pencils, so if they make a mistake it can be easily corrected. The following exercise takes away the eraser, so kids can learn to take their time while drawing, and also improve their confidence in their work.

Under 5s: As this might be their first introduction to pens, be ready for a little mess! Give your child a marker pen and paper, and let them draw or scribble whatever they like. Show them that this time what they've made can't be erased, and is theirs to keep!

Ages 5+: Since you can't erase while painting, try not erasing while drawing! Simply let children have fun making whatever drawing they like on paper. But, there's a catch! Challenge them to not use an eraser at all while they draw - this will help them make smart decisions while drawing, and gain confidence in their ability.

Introduction To Watercolour

Watercolour palette for learning to paint guide kids

One of the simplest (and most washable!) painting techniques, watercolour has been around for centuries. It's also a great way to get children into painting, as it's quick, easy, and can be used in addition to drawing and other types of paint.

Under 5s: If your toddler loves using a pencil, try taking it one step further and introduce them to holding a brush. The Paige Diaries have some great, easy ideas on 'How to Introduce Water Colour Painting to Toddlers', which are loads of fun and will help kids become more familiar with painting on paper.

Ages 5-8: It can be a challenge to work with watercolours at first, so check out the simple lessons on nurturestore.co.uk which are perfect for introducing kids to all the different ways they can create beautiful watercolour art.

Ages 8+: One of the best things about watercolour is the fact you can draw on top of it once it's dry! Why not grab some pens and make some super easy watercolour feather paintings by adding the detail in black liner onto your patches of watercolour. Requiring minimum expertise for a beautiful result, this concept is also easy to apply to other ideas, so there really is no limit to what kids can create!

Lessons In Acrylic Painting

Considered to be one of the most versatile types of paint, acrylic is perfect for helping kids learn how to paint. Not only can it be thinned down easily, it can also be used to make bright, textured paintings (plus it dries really quickly!).

Under 5s: When it comes to acrylic, you can make some dazzling abstract paintings. Simply set some paints out (we recommend you slightly water them down for use with younger children), and allow kids to familiarise themselves with the new textures, colours and how they all interact.

Ages 5-8: Acrylic painting is lots of fun, and there are so many options for what you can make. This easy abstract painting guide is both fun and simple for kids to engage with:

Ages 8+: If your child loves to paint, now could be a perfect time to introduce them to working on canvas. Small, pre-stretched canvases are inexpensive and make your painting into an instant, ready-to-hang work of art. Felt Magnet offer a step-by-step guide to using acrylics for beginners of all ages, containing lots of tips on how to take your painting skills to the next level.

Painting To Music

This uber fun painting activity is lots of fun for kids of all ages, and it really helps them to learn a little bit more about their own artistic style. All you need to do is select some tunes from different genres (think classical, rock, pop or reggae) and allow the kids to respond through art! Set them up with some paint, paper and water, and allow them to really focus on what they want to create. Check out the fantastic resources on artfulparent.com for more ideas on how to paint to music with kids.

Simple Still Life Lesson

Observational drawing and painting is a fantastic way for kids to develop their skills, and become more familiar with the world around them.

Under 5s: Start kids off with still life by getting them to think about shapes. Colourful blocks and other simple items are perfect ideas to use as a painting prompt.

Ages 5-8: For an ultra helpful exercise in 'seeing', Artful Parent also provide a guide to observational drawing which encourages kids to look at things from an artistic point of view, and express this through painting and drawing.

Ages 8+: If your kids have an interest in starting to learn how to create a still life with accuracy, the Still Life Techniques from artyfactory.com are sure to help with their observational drawing, and painting abilities.

Top Tip: Painting a still life can be intimidating, but it's important to remember that not everything needs to be realistic. Even the best artists make mistakes, and everyone has their own unique style that is important to them. If your child is feeling frustrated about their outcome, remind them that there's no such thing as a bad artist, and that by practising, they are making amazing progress.

Easy Portrait Painting

Easy portrait painting with paintbrushes for learning to paint for kids and teens

Painting from life is one of the most challenging and rewarding skills an artist can learn. By trying out these easy activities, kids can begin to develop their ability to work from life, and start to think about what they would personally like to create.

Under 5s: With younger children, creating a portrait is all about colour, expression and imagination. Ask kids to create a picture of a family member, pet, or imaginary figure, and let them loose with some paint and paper!

Ages 5-8: All you need for this easy self-portrait activity is a mirror and some painting supplies! Hello, Wonderful offer twelve self-portrait ideas which are a great start for helping kids learn all about creating a piece of art that represents themselves.

Ages 8+: If your child is really enthusiastic about painting, now is a great opportunity to introduce them to oil paints. Traditionally used by the masters, oil paint requires patience and preparation but is an invaluable skill for kids to learn early on. '4 Easy Steps To Teach Children Oil Painting' on tropicdrawing.com lays out the basics of oil painting for kids, so your child can learn everything they need to make stunning works of art.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents. 

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.  

Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong. 

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