This amazing post was written by Shannon from Oh Creative Day.
If there is one piece of art that I hoard around here, it is kiddy-made portraits, and making mixed media portraits with kids is right up there with the best!
High on cute factor, often hilarious, and always steeped in story and imagination.
The process of making these mixed media portraits has been a hit with my children. I attribute that mainly to the presentation of the materials and the chance to work on a vertical surface. Oh and glue. I’ve yet to met a young child who doesn’t love the chance to wield a glue stick.
Making Mixed Media Portraits with Kids
Here are my tips and tricks for setting up an invitation to create mixed media portraits.
What You’ll Need.
I raided the craft cupboard and presented lots of different collage items in a paint palette and cutlery divider.
We used old paintings cut into different shapes, bits of tissue paper, yarn, stickers, googly eyes- if it can be glued onto a piece of paper, use it!
You’ll also need some paper and glue sticks, and some pencils, markers or crayons.
The first time we created portraits, there was a heavy leaning towards yarn and washi tape. The second time, it was all about googly eyes, stickers and coloured paper.
This is the kind of project that can be done again and again simply by offering different materials.
Size does matter
We initially did these mixed media portraits on A4-sized paper. For my little ones, these portraits were much more to scale. However, it is always fun to upscale art projects and to see what happens when you experiment with size. When we upscaled to A3-sized paper, there was obviously much more space to fill. There were also some hilarious conversations about the placement of features.
Drawing on the walls
Okay, so we don’t really want our kids drawing on the walls, but putting the portraits up on the wall and having your little artists create vertically has several benefits.
First of all, novelty factor! Simply sticking these heads on the wall created a whole different and exciting vibe for my littles.
Secondly, working on a vertical surface employs a whole range of different muscles which are important to develop for writing.
Thirdly, if you have a right-hander, place the materials on their left, or vice versa. This causes the mini maker to cross the midline (which is is a fancy way of saying that the child has to reach across their body.) Crossing the midline is an important skill for young writers to practice and develop.
To draw or not to draw?
I chose to draw the head in black marker onto a sheet of paper for my children (who are 3 and 5). This was mainly so that I didn’t have to do too much explaining and could just let them jump into creating. If you have older children, you can encourage them to complete this step.
If you have a mini maker who struggles to fill the whole paper when drawing, here’s a trick. Fold the paper in half.
Demonstrate how half the head has to fill the top half of the sheet, reaching all the way to the top edge. The bottom half is filled with the lower part of the head and neck. If you want to be a bit more precise, you could fold your paper into thirds.
It’s up to you what kind of creative brief you wish to provide.
You could instruct your little artists to create a self-portrait, or a portrait of a loved one. In doing so, children would have to reflect upon what materials they could use to accurately depict their subject. I simply challenged my kids to make a face and they had fun picking and choosing between materials.
You may notice that my 3-year-old’s portrait ended up with 4 googly eyes. Two eyes “had” to be added after the experience had ended. Who was I to quash his creative vision? Makers gonna make.
No matter what instructions or materials you provide, I can guarantee that making these mixed media portraits with kids is a vocabulary-rich experience for kids. And giggles are a-plenty!
If you try this mixed media portrait project (try saying that 6 times quickly) with your children, be sure to tag @picklebums and @ohcreativeday on social media so we can marvel at your mini maker’s masterpieces!
If you loved this easy art activity and need some more inspiring ideas, check out these kids’ art posts from Oh Creative Day!
Shannon is a Sydney mum of 3 and a teacher who believes that reading and creative outlets are as important as breathing. She harbours the desire to be a published picture book author. But first she needs to figure out what’s on for dinner.
Shannon blogs at Oh Creative Day where she shares ideas for creative days amongst the sweet chaos of little ones. She has an unhealthy addiction to Instagram, coffee and pom poms and is vehemently opposed to glitter. According to her husband, she cannot pack the dishwasher properly. Like, ever.