I have been continually working on some sort of art project for as long as I can remember. I spent most of my spare time as a child making crafts and drawing, I was an AP art kid in high school, I graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University, and I have worked professionally as an illustrator, graphic artist, and portrait artist. So, naturally, I was thrilled (and may have even shed a tear) when I gave Tommy his first set of crayons at 10 months old and watched him go to town scribbling his own little masterpiece. I have it hanging in my studio above my drafting table. 🙂
I have since introduced him to a variety of artistic tools, including markers, watercolors, stickers, tempera paints, Do-a-Dot markers, and colored pencils. There are few things that bring me more joy than watching my little boy create. The frenzied look in his eye as he brushes paint onto paper is my absolute favorite. So, I had these three little 6×8″ canvas panels sitting in my closet full of art supplies and thought that they would be the perfect starter canvases for my little Picasso. And, at 20 months old, he is currently obsessed with his ABCs, so that is where the idea for these painted initial canvases started.
To make this project, you will need:
- 3 blank canvases (or however many you want to make)
- Washable, non toxic tempera paint (and any other art supplies your child wants to use)
- Palette (or plate, or plastic lid, or whatever works)
- Masking tape
- Paint brushes (or little hands that can get messy)
- White acrylic paint (for touch-ups)
Make this with your own little artist in 5 easy steps:
- Grown-up: Create one letter on each canvas with masking tape. I did Tommy’s initials, TJA, but this could also work well for a kid with a short first name if you want to spell out the whole name. Be sure that the tape is stuck firmly to the canvas and that edges are clean, as this will be the negative space that creates the initial on each canvas. For curved letters, use scissors to cut the tape into rounded edges.
- Grown-up: Squeeze a few different colors of paint onto your palette and line up the taped canvases side by side to prepare your artist’s work area.
- Child: Let the artist get to work spreading tempera paint over the canvas. My little artist started by using brushes of varying sizes and then decided that he would rather use his hands. He also chose to go for a mixed-media approach and added a few touches of Do-a-Dot markers and Crayola Ultra-Washable Markers. Encourage the artist to fill any spots of bare canvas bordering the areas masked with tape so that the letters will really pop when it is done.
- Grown-up: When the artist’s job is done and all paint is dry to the touch, gently peel off the masking tape to reveal the letters. Touch up any sloppy edges with white acrylic paint.
- Grown-up: Let dry and hang the artwork for all to enjoy!
This project was simple, fun, and an adorable solution for the blank wall above Tommy’s crib. Now every time he wakes up, he smiles and points at his artwork, shouting “A!” (his favorite letter). I think it really makes him excited to see the art that he created on display. It was also a fun way for him to learn about self-expression, letters, and colors.
Now it’s your turn, go make it with your child, and share your results with us when you’re done!