I apologize ahead of time for the photo overload in this post, but this was just so amazing to observe, that I’m hoping you love it as much as I do. We set up an amazing freestyle collaborative painting mural for art class last week and it was soooo cool. Spring is around the corner. Making a group mural is a great way to celebrate being outside. If you have a toddler I have a step by step evolving canvas tutorial here that’s also really fun. And click to see how we turned this mural into a gorgeous wall hanging for your child’s room!
brushes and rollers
bowls for paint
There are a million ways to paint a mural. We did this with three year olds and one very cute one year old. Your age group may determine what you can do. I am really excited by the idea of giving kids engaging materials and then letting them create what they want. Often kids don’t get that experience, so for me, I try to offer that as much as possible in my art class. I think it’s a great gift to give kids freedom to create their own ideas.
First, we mixed the paint. I had all the primary colors available and lots of white for mixing. I give a step by step tutorial on how to mix paints with kids here. I also supplied mala paints from ikea because they are cheap and super fun to squeeze from the bottle. The tip is really narrow so only a little squirts at a time and they last surprisingly long. Kids LOVE mixing and squeezing paint!
After paint mixing we were off to the races. Every group I do this with is so different. Some kids are super excited and boisterous, while others are deeply focused and engaged. I’ve also had a few kids spend the first 20 minutes just sort of watching in amazement and then they slowly make their way over to the mural with a small brush and try it out. Usually by the end of class they are the ones covered in paint head to toe, but sometimes not and thats ok. I think no matter what the style of each group or individual, collaborative painting offers a rich experience for all involved, including the adult facilitating.
It’s true that this is not for everyone, meaning not every adult. It can be a big mess, so having an outdoor area is important and also a very open attitude. Kids are going to start painting their bodies, though it’s ok to tell them that’s not allowed. Kids are going to miss the fabric and start painting on the paper or plastic underneath, and it’s ok to guide them towards the painting area. Paint and glitter is definitely going to get used up, so it’s a good idea to go into a project like this knowing your paint was purchased for this reason, so go with it. The more care free you can be, the more the kids can enjoy and let go. That doesn’t mean it’s ok to start painting the walls, it just means they have a designated area to let loose and enjoy the experience of creating.
This group in particular was quiet and engaged. They had a blast, but it was a quiet blast. Well, until the glitter came out. That sort of sent them over the edge. Kids freaking love glitter. They just can’t get enough of it. I saved it to the end and let them just shake shake shake.
I mentioned before that kids are definitely going to paint their bodies. These girls were very excited with the sensory experience of the paint on their hands. I let them do it a little and then said the paint is going to stay on the mural, rather than our bodies. I kept a big bucket of water on hand that kids could use to clean their hands whenever they wanted. This is a great way to help those kids that feel a little overwhelmed by the mess. They can paint, clean, paint, clean. It works really well. Also, you have a close water source to reign in the mess.
This little cutie snuck her way into class, which I totally understand. She sat and squeezed and really enjoyed the water bucket! After class we kind of hosed everyone down by the bucket and they were on their way. I had placed craft paper under the mural before we started so after class I was able to just roll up the mural in the paper all wet, fold it in half and put it in my trunk. I brought it home and hung it on our playhouse to dry. Of course we came out the next morning and did a photo shoot in front of it. My girls decided it was a Frozen palace and sang Let it Go for about a half hour in our backyard.
I asked the girls in class how we could all share our mural and one of the girls suggested we cut it up. Click to see how we turned our collaborative mural into a beautiful garland. Thanks for reading along everyone! Happy painting. xo Meri