Painting on Canvas & Studio Art

I visited Creative Care for Children in Santa Barbara last month and found the most inspiring art studio for young children, full of open ended art with emphasis on canvas painting. I was lucky enough to catch a young girl at work, and watched her carefully study each brush stroke and admire the results. Danielle Monroy, the Director and Owner of this inviting In-Home Preschool, told me how much her children enjoyed the freedom of painting and how the youngest children accomplished very impressive self portraits and abstracts, especially when given a stretched canvas to paint on. Here, Danielle shows how she helps children use masking tape to protect some sections of a canvas while they go on to develop other sections. In the painting she is holding here, waxed paper and masking tape are protecting the middle “self portrait” section which the child said was finished, while the background and surrounding areas are further developed. This “masking off” technique is particularly useful when using acrylic paint which is opaque. I’ll talk a little more about acrylics versus other paints at the end of this post.

Canvas always makes a painting seem official, as if painting on a canvas makes it “real art.” Maybe that’s because art galleries are filled with canvas paintings, and grownups artists usually paint on canvas. But it’s never too early for children to learn the pleasures of painting on the crisp white surface of canvas board, and with Discount School Supply’s new set of 6 canvas boards, you can do that affordably. Here are examples of toddler paintings on these very boards, taken on a site visit directed by Angie Gish at Grossmont Community College’s Child Development Center in San Diego. Each one is beautiful and their artful gallery display helps create a welcoming, intimate environment in this model toddler classroom.

What paint should you use on canvas? You can use any paint on canvas, but I recommend starting with either BioColor® or Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera and natural bristle easel brushes. Acrylic paint is also popular and offers the ability to layer without transparency, but it is not at ALL washable. Some people wait until elementary school before offering canvas for children to paint on, but I hope these pictures inspire you to dive right in way earlier than that. Have fun developing your art studio and help expand your children’s imaginations through open ended studio art.

Materials you will need:
Canvas – Real Stretched Canvas, set of 6 – Item VANGOGH
Small Easel Brush Set – Best Value Easel Brush Assortment – Item FULLSET
(or)
Classroom Easel Brush Set, set of 24 – Item SHPK
Best Paint Options:
BioColor® – BioColor, Set of 13 Colors – Item BIOSET
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera – Set of 15 Classic and Cool Colors – Item SWTALL
Acrylic – Colorations Acrylic Paint, set of 8 – Item CACRYLIC

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