What are the best art materials for children to explore painting? Regardless of how young the artist, good quality paints, brushes and art surfaces should be used, otherwise negative associations with art might be drawn due to cheap poster paints and nylon brushes. The good news is, quality art materials do not mean expense.
The Best Paints for Children’s Art
Few things are more frustrating for a child than to aspire for artistic effects only to be limited by the cheap art materials available. Cheap poster paints are a common culprit, the sort that yields gritty pigment that refuses to cover the art surface evenly. Tablets that require a lot of water and working over can waste valuable time and energy if the child simply wants to get down to the painting. Nylon brushes that cannot hold much paint, splays easily or permits only the broadest brushmarks will do little for children’s self confidence if wanting a particular effect. Again, thin paper that buckles at the smallest drop of water can be offputting. So what are the best art materials for children’s painting?
How to Encourage Children’s Artistic Expression
One of the secrets to encourage children to pursue art is to ensure success in learning. This means supplying good quality art materials for kids to explore. When it comes to paints, practicality pervades, which means non-toxic, low-odour and water-soluble. I would recommend acrylic paints. Good quality acrylics such as Daler Rowney or Winsor & Newton have a high tinting strength and easy flow. This means the paint can be manipulated easily, whether a solid block of colour is the aim or detail. System 3D acrylics enable young artists to apply the paint impasto, as it has body. Liquitex is also recommended. For economy, purchase large pots and dish out only what is required for the art project. Children should be informed not to allow the paint to dry on the brushes as this will ruin the bristles.
Pigments for Kid’s Artwork
A wide pigment range is not necessary to mix a variety of colours. In fact, the purchase of a mere handful will provide all the colour mixes children need. I would recommend the following pigments:
The three primary colours, which in acrylics are: process yellow, process magenta and process cyan. Useful others are: ultramarine, lemon yellow, cadmium red, viridian, burnt sienna, burnt umber and black. A large tub of white will be invaluable.
Children’s Art Brushes
Synthetic sables brushes are cheap to buy and long-lasting. Rounds sizes 6 and 10 would be useful for detail. Household brushes for edging windowsills or such can be used for applying large areas of colour. Different sizes can be purchased from any DIY shop. Other mark making implements can be used for art projects, which might be: old toothbrushes, combs, sponges, rags, spatulas and spoons. Hobby shops provide stamps for impressing with.
Art Surfaces for Beginners
Cheap paper will buckle and perish if too much water is applied over the surface. To prevent this, prefer thick paper (at least 240gsm) or card. Paper can also be primed with cheap white acrylic paint or emulsion. This paint is water-soluble but provides a tough, water-resistant surface. (Artists use gesso primer for this purpose but gesso can be costly). A large tub will cover countless art surfaces and will seal the absorbency of the paper or card. Simply apply a coat via a wide brush and allow to dry over four hours. Clean the brushes immediately afterwards in warm, soapy water.
Other Art Materials for Kids’ Art Lessons
Sturdy plastic pots for holding water and storing brushes, newspaper, aprons, rags and a place for the paintings to dry will come in useful. Any non-absorbent object can be used as an artist’s palette; old china plates, varnished wood or Clingfilm stretched over a piece of card. Once finished with, the Clingfilm can simply be folded inwards and disposed with.
What to Paint for Kids
Unless the painting is runny, I will peg the paintings onto an old clothes horse or line to dry. Good visual resources in the form of photographs or magazine cuttings might spur inspiration. Imagery such as close-ups of objects, animals, interesting weather, plants or patterns can be used. A repository of interesting objects for still life can be sourced from charity shops or simply a rife through the attic. Sea shells, ornaments, toys, leaves or household objects can create interest.
The Children’s Art Studio
With small expense, children will be able to explore art via the use of good quality art materials. A few crucial pigments will enable kids to mix any colour required. Synthetic sables will cut the price of art brushes so long as they are washed immediately after use. Similarly, thick paper or card sealed with household emulsion will provide an absorbent-free art surface for kids to lay paint. To ensure success in learning, good visual resources can be sought from household objects, photos or charity shops. Laying the foundations for a tendency for creative expression in the future lies in making sure the child enjoys applying that first brush mark. And this entails the purchase of good quality materials.
Art Lessons for Kids
Kids' art lesson on abstract art
About primary colours