I love introducing new artistic techniques to my children. In another life, I think I would have been an art teacher. As it is, I’m happy to be an art teacher to my children. To start our next STEAM learning unit on I, we worked on a mix media project involving inkblots. The Art in Action for I is I is for Inkblot Art — an abstract art experience for children.
This activity is a fun painting activity. I would recommend this activity for children over four years in age. The painting technique requires blowing through a drinking straw after it has been dipped in paint. Children younger than four might have a difficult time distinguishing between blowing out and breathing in.
Objective: to introduce children to a different method of creating abstract art.
One set of drinking straws for each child. The straws should be cut to between three and four inches each. Each student needs four straws.
A color mixing pallet. We used a pie tin.
One piece of construction paper
Red, yellow, blue, and black paint
Smocks or old shirts
This art exploration has two steps. The first is the creation of the inkblots, and the second is using the imagination to turn the inkblots into something.
Step 1: Creating the Inkblots
Start by dipping a straw into a color. It works best to not mix the paint on the straws – so one straw per color for each child.
After dipping the straw a couple of times – there needs to be a lot of paint in the straw, place the non-painted side of the straw in the mouth and blow out quickly. There needs to be some force to the breath of air for this method to be successful in creating inkblots. Also, don’t spit – that will cause problems for the project. If big globs of paint plop out – that is just fine. Just take the straw, and without dipping, blow on the blob of paint to spread it around.
Once the artist is happy with how many inkblots of the first color have been made, move onto the next, repeating the process until all the colors have been used. My children enjoyed trying to get a different colored inkblot on top of the other inkblots to see what would happen.
Finally, allow the picture to dry before proceeding to the next step.
Step 2: Creating the picture
After the inkblots have dried, it’s time to create the picture.
This step involves using the imagination to make the shapes on the paper into something. Once something has been imagined, it needs to be drawn on the paper.
Looking at inkblots is a lot like looking at clouds – different people see different images in the ink. Having the children draw what they see in the inkblots makes for an interesting study in what they are thinking about. We used crayons as our second medium in this art project partly because they are easy to draw with, and partly because they draw on top of the dried craft paint.
This activity was really fun to do together, and my children really enjoyed blowing the ink onto the paper. I liked seeing all the swirls that formed because of how we were applying the paint. I also thought the creativity shown while the children drew their pictures was fantastic.