Communication Through Paint – acrylic painting course for school age children

We run this course for our 9-week term classes and during our school holiday camps. Obviously, we manage to go through a lot more information during our term program, but our holiday camp crash course is a perfect opportunity for children to get familiar with acrylic medium and learn necessary painting techniques to be able to create a painting.

I learnt this painting course from an artist and art teacher Hamish Betts – you can learn more about it here.

We start off by practicing a series of painting techniques with children so that later when they begin creating a painting they have knowledge and awareness of different brush strokes and ways to apply paint on canvas.

Among these painting techniques are: base coat, gradient, stippling, rough brush stroke, sgraffito, palette knife scraping, pointillism, splattering and finger painting. We practice all these techniques on a large piece of paper so we can use these pieces of paper later as a visual aid or reference for our painting.









When all the techniques have been covered and practiced, we are ready for our first painting – an abstract art work of feelings. We talk about colours that represent certain feelings and look at famous paintings, for example, Picasso’s blue period paintings suggest sadness and misery and if we want to paint something sad, we might want to choose shades and tints of blue.


Red, magenta, yellow and orange colours, on the other hand, might suggest anger or excitement so we choose these colours to paint anger. We start each painting with a base coat and then add more layers of painting techniques progressively thinking which of them might represent or look like the feeling we have chosen to paint.


Our next step is to build on the knowledge of colours and we look at the photo of a tree on a calm and sunny day. Children brainstorm their feelings when they look at the photo and we choose the colours for our second painting – a tree. Children choose themselves the painting techniques they would like to use to paint their tree. Note how the art works are different as we allow children the freedom to express their own ideas and work on their own skill level.



For our third painting we choose an animal to paint. We look at the photos of different animals and vote for one we would like to paint. Similar to the tree painting, we brainstorm the feelings we might have towards the animal, for example, if it is a turtle, we might come up with calmness, happiness, relaxation. We choose the colours for these feelings again and start layering our canvases with paint. As always we start with a base coat and the gradient painting the turtle on top of these two.






To give the children additional practice of painting the shapes of the turtle on the canvas, we go through an observational drawing session where children draw a turtle by looking at the photo. Again note how all the drawing are completely different even though the children are looking at the same photo. This is because we encourage individuality and never correct children on the way they see things!





Our next session is dedicated to painting a collaborative mural. We paint an abstract art work – our attitude (in other words a feeling again) towards a certain world problem. In this photo you can see the children are creating a painting of their feelings towards the problem of the rubbish on the beach. Again all the colours represent our feelings.


Finally, during our last sessions children choose their own subject to paint and use all the skills and knowledge practiced throughout the course of the term to create their unique masterpiece!






You can also watch our video about this course here.


Author: WonderLab Creative Studio

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s