Today, I’m jazzed to talk about art with kids! A while back, I was contacted by Jane of Buzzmills, and she invited me to participate in the awesome Backyard Art Camp series she is co-hosting with Melissa of A Happy Stitch. The idea is simple and brilliant: choose an artist, learn about said artist and work, then create a fun project inspired by the artist in some way with your kid(s). I was immediately in. And knew instantly who I wanted to feature: Wayne Thiebaud.
Wayne Thiebaud is an American artist who became famous for his dessert paintings during the Pop Art era, which I’m sure you’ve seen at some point. I checked out this book from the library months ago and was reminded of how much I love his art:
It’s a simplified version of his life, of course, meant for children, but I enjoyed it immensely. I especially love the accessibility, the humor, and beautiful use of textures and colors of his work. I saw his oil paintings for the first time at the SFMOMA over fifteen years ago, and spent the most time in front of his pieces. I love that he was tenacious and painted his whimsical art despite having a hard time getting taken seriously. There is a quote from him in the beginning of the book: “I had a great life, so about the only thing I can do is to paint happy pictures.” And I agree. His paintings are cheerful and buoyant.
So. The book was not available for this project, unfortunately, but K and I viewed this video together and looked at a few of his paintings online. Then we dug into the best part: creating the project!
I decided to make it a two-in-one project including cooking and painting. Part 1 was the making of “fruit pizzas” and Part 2 was the painting of the delectable creations. Following are the easy steps. This is a great project for kids aged 4 to 8 – the kids I did this with are 7 and 8, and they loved it.
PART 1: FRUIT PIZZAS
Cream cheese (plain and strawberry)
Fruit (any fruit that strikes your fancy, but we used pineapples, strawberries, mandarin oranges and blueberries)
1. Make the cookies. We used this recipe and the cookies were fantastic! Store-bought would also be more than OK, especially for younger kids. Each cookie was about three to four inches in diameter.
2. Spread cream cheese on cookies and decorate with fruit. K and her buddy S got very creative with these!
PART 2: FRUIT PIZZA PAINTINGS
Canvas (I had 8×8 inch canvases lying around, but you could get similar ones at your local art store. Plain paper works just fine too, but the girls got a thrill from using real canvas)
Plastic dishes or paint palettes
Papertowels/napkins for wiping off paint
1. Let the kids arrange the fruit pizzas on a platter or cake stand, unless the kids are very young. Spillage will result in very unhappy painters.
2. Place small dollops of paint in different colors on a plastic dish or palette. Let the kids go to town. I did do a brief art lesson explaining how Thiebaud applied paint thickly to get the texture and how to mix colors, rinse the brushes, etc.
3. Admire their work and take pictures! Bonus: dig into the fruit pizzas after the paintings are done!
Make sure to check Buzzmills and A Happy Stitch for fabulous projects, and there are oodles of other art-inspired projects from the other Backyard Art Camp participants too: