Families – fill up your week with these free fun art activities!
Every Monday, we'll post 5 creative activities that have been designed for children of all ages to explore at their own pace. And, of course, grown-ups can join in too – especially with the mid-week activities for the entire family!
These wee taster activities have been specially created by our Learning team to enable children and families to make their own discoveries about art. They aim to develop creativity skills, such as problem solving, imagination, curiosity and open-mindedness. Please keep in mind that there are no wrong answers - this is all about looking, chatting, making and enjoying your time at home!
We hope you enjoy our ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ Creative Curriculum!
In addition to these activities, we are also now accepting entries from families for our Art Competition for Schools. Find out more about this fantastic opportunity for children of all ages!
You know your child best
Some activities may suit you better than others so pick and choose!
We’ve aimed the language at age 7+, but activities can be suitable for any age, just adapt to suit your child.
How long your child engages with the activity will vary. Depending on their age, the way they’re feeling that day, the immediate appeal of any activity... some will work better than others. Don't worry if they're not feeling it - try again another time, or move on to something else. You might be surprised by what they're interested in.
We hope these suggestions will allow your child to develop their creativity by encouraging their curiosity, open mindedness, problem-solving and imagination.
You don’t need to know anything about art to have fun with it. Encourage your child to share their ideas, observations and opinions. There’s never a wrong answer about art. And it's ok not to know all the answers. Nobody does. Where would the fun be in that?
If something worked, do it again!
Let your child lead
You don’t need to have all the ideas. In fact, if you really want your child to be creative, encouraging them to come up with their own ideas is a brilliant way to help your child be creative and explore their imagination.
Try to enjoy, together
Take a deep breath, you’re doing a brilliant job. Let us know if we can support you - we can't wait to see you in the gallery, as soon as we can.
Kitchen Sink and Cupboard
While we’re spending so much time at home, it's important to keep ourselves stimulated. This week’s activities will help to keep the boredom at bay by getting you to look afresh at your familiar surroundings and find the beauty in the everyday. They include fun drawing exercises, sketchbook-making, story-telling, and more.
The activities are inspired by this intimate drawing, which is of the artist’s own kitchen sink and cupboard!
Joan Eardley once said ‘the more I know of a place, the more I know a particular spot, the more I find to paint in that particular spot’.
Activity one: drawing room
Create your own space: Before you start drawing, you need to create your own space in which to do it! It could be in a corner of a room, under a table, behind a curtain, even in an empty bath! The space doesn’t need to be huge – so long as it’s big enough for you and your drawing!
Gather your materials: What are you going to draw ON? How about making an easel from a piece of card, a sketchbook (see the video below), or a clipboard from a cereal box and clothes peg?
Make a scene: What in your house would you like to draw? You could take inspiration from Joan Eardley and grab a few things from the kitchen, like a cheese-grater, a saucepan, a candle… What else can you see in her drawing?
Once you’ve found all your things, arrange them together in a way you’d like to draw them, perhaps on a table, chair or a box. You could add fabric, such as clothes or a towel or a sheet, to make the background interesting.
Draw! For this activity, instead of drawing from your memory, you should slow down and look really closely at the scene you’ve made, so that you start to see the wee details of the everyday objects in your life. If you’re stuck, you could use some of the 'warm up' ideas from activity 5 below.
Note for under 5s: You might think that your little one is too young for this. However, if you have a go, you might be surprised at how much they enjoy collecting and looking at a series of objects out of context before making their own drawing marks!
Activity two: See, Think, Wonder
Use the following questions to help you to write a story, imagining that you are in Joan Eardley’s kitchen!
- Where is this place?
- What can you see in front, behind, below and above you?
- What can you smell?
- What can you hear?
- Is there anything you could taste?
- What can you touch? What does it feel like?
You could start your story with the following:
‘One day I was sitting in Joan’s kitchen…’
and take it from there!
Activity three: a mid-week challenge for all the family
Your challenge this week is to draw your own kitchen sink! Don’t tidy up first – draw it how it really is!
Using just a pen or a pencil, we want you to try drawing your sink in 1 minute, then 3 minutes, then 10 minutes. Share your favourite with us by using #HomeArt and tagging @NatGalleriesSco
If you need them, you can find some 'warm up' drawing ideas in activity 5 below.
In this clip we hear that Joan was ‘in her element, in the elements’!
Have you ever made any art outside? What do you think might be some of the benefits, and challenges?
Activity five: draw, draw, draw
This activity contains a whole host of tools, ideas and tips to help you have a great time drawing.
Make a sketchbook
Start by making your sketchbook to hold all of your drawings.
The pages of your sketchbook are ONLY for you – please don't worry if you don't think they're 'perfect' drawings (... but we bet that they're totally brilliant!)
Drawing straight onto a blank page can be a bit scary. So, just as with P.E. you may need to warm up your creative muscles at the start of your drawing session!
Here are ten ‘warm up’ ideas for drawing. Pick and choose your favourites, or make up your own. Remember: there’s no wrong or right way to draw or create.
- Draw as many marks with your pencil as you can on one page.
- Can you draw a line that is angry, sad, confused or excited? How much emotion can you put into one single line?
- Draw an object in one go, without lifting your pencil from your page. This is called a ‘continuous line drawing’. It helps you focus on what you’re actually seeing, rather than what you think something looks like.
- Draw what’s in front of you, but upside down! Focus on the lines and shapes that you can see.
- Draw your object from above, below and at eye level. Which is your favourite?
- Attach your pencil to a long stick and draw an object!
- Draw with two pencils held together
- Hold your pencil in a different hand – then, how about holding it with your toes?!
- Press really hard or soft … play with the idea that there’s no right way to hold a pencil when you’re drawing.
- Scrunch and un-scrunch your paper, give it a wee tear or scribble a line on it! Do something to change it from being a perfectly blank white piece of paper!
'Read more' for some tips for your drawing – but feel free to just keep playing or doing your own thing.
Composition: You’ve already created your display, but now you need to choose where you want to put the shapes and lines of your page. What do you want the focus of your drawing to be? Use your pencil lightly when you start plotting out your composition, so you can rub it out until you’re happy with where everything is.
Shapes and edges: Look for the edges of your objects and start there. Think of your scene as a series of lines and shapes. Capture them. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like you think it should. These activities are all about learning to look.
Feeling shady: Understanding light, shade and tone is a great way to add depth to your drawing. Objects are 3 dimensional (they’re not flat) so the tone of an object is different across its surface. Take a moment to look closely at one of your objects. Look at the way the light hits it - and how different the lightest and darkest part of it look. The tones on your object will depend where the light is coming from. Think about the direction and distance between your pencil marks when you’re shading too - the closer your lines, the darker your shading will be.
Keep looking: Drawing is at least 50% observation – the more you look, the more you see. Think of yourself as a detective, recording all the details… and enjoy!
Especially for under 5s
This week there are two activities especially for our under 5 Artists – a messy one which focuses on making marks and a clean one which focuses on finding and drawing different shaped objects around us.
Magic marks! (a bit messy)
Make a weird goopy mixture in which your marks will magically disappear! To make the mixture all you need is cornflour!
Put some cornflour in a bowl and add in a little water at a time. When this hard mixture is lifted up it becomes liquid! Your wee ones will enjoy making lines in this goopy mixture, only for their lines to quickly disappear like magic!
When you're finished, put your magic mixture in the bin - not the sink!
Shape sorter! (totally clean)
- Make or find something that can hold a few objects- a cardboard box with a hole, shoebox, tray with cloth, that kind of thing.
- Find objects and cut out the shape of their outlines.
- Hide the objects in the box and take it in turns to work out which shape matches which object!
River Avon Mud Fingerprints Spiral
These activites revolve around the natural world. They’re inspired by the artist Richard Long, who often uses nature as the subject AND as the material when he makes art. His fascinating creations take on many different forms, including photographs, maps, pieces of writing, sculptures, walks, and mud-patterns such as the one pictured here.
One Day Strike for the National Health Service, Cambridge Street, Edinburgh
This image is from photographer Iain Stewart’s project, ‘Picture of Health’, for which he followed his parents (both doctors) and took photos to record them at work. This week’s activities include different ways for you to celebrate the heroes in YOUR life, whoever they may be.
Addison Crescent Study (London Series)
This week's inspirational artwork was created by an entire family - Mark Boyle and Joan Hills, and their children Sebastian and Georgia Boyle. The artworkis an exact copy of part of a street in London. The Boyle Family threw a dart onto a map in order to decide which piece of the land they were going to reproduce!
The Boyle Family used lots of different things to create this piece of art - they wanted to make it EXACTLY the same as the piece of land they found on a map. It looks like the artists have removed part of the roadside and stuck it onto a wall. Isn't it amazing to think that anything you can see, even a kerbside, can become a work of art!
Conversation with Magic Stones
Week five's inspiration was the multi-part sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, Conversation with Magic Stones. The artist called the three standing parts 'figures' and she called the other three parts 'magic stones'! Barbara Hepworth often made things in threes, partly because she gave birth to triplets in 1934!
Week four's inspiration is Alison Watt's painting Sabine. Her painted folds of fabric show her amazing attention to detail. She is inspired by historical painters (google 'Ingres' for one example) and the drapes of fabric that you can find in these paintings, but she makes them look and feel very modern.
Cold War Steve
Harold the Ghost of Lost Futures
The inspiration for week three of our Creative Curriculum was this busy collage. The artist 'Cold War Steve' created this work by collecting images of celebrities and creating a surreal scene which you would never see in real life!
Cold War Steve's real name is Christopher Spencer. Choose your own ‘artist’ name before you start this week's activities.
Imagine the Green is Red
The inspiration for our first week of the Creative Curriculum was this funny ‘intervention’ photograph by the artist David Shrigley. He created the work by making and placing a sign on the ground at Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow - what do you think?!
The inspiration for our first week of the Creative Curriculum was Vulcan, atgiant sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi. Vulcan was the Roman God of fire and the blacksmith who made weapons for the gods and heroes. He is half-man, half-machine and stands over 7m high.
At home resources
Want to start a conversation about art? Here are some simple ideas.