My older son is a somewhat reluctant artist. One of the techniques I have used to encourage him to explore his creative side was to offer only a single color for our art projects.
You may be thinking that using only one color for art projects will bore kids. I found the opposite to be true and I encourage you to give it a try.
The idea behind working with a single color came from Susan Striker’s book Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem-Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art (affiliate link). I was frustrated because whenever he had multiple colors of paint, or crayons, or markers his focus was always on making a single mark with each color, after which he would declare, “done!”
One color kept my son focused on the process of creating art. He even talked to me about what he was doing!
Although you can provide just a brush, paper and a piece of paper, there are lots of ways to explore single color art projects. I hope these ideas will give you a bit of inspiration. All of the photos below show art work Kiddo created when he was 3 years old (he is 9 now). The philosophy of single color art, however, can be applied to kids (and adults) of all ages.
Art Projects to do with one color:
Provide cut or torn shapes in a single color. Vary the background sheet in black or white, and then in the same color. For example, kids can paste black shapes on white paper, or black shapes on black paper.
Provide textured materials in a single color. For example, buttons, cotton wool, corrugated paper, foam shapes, sparkly gems, glitter etc. Kids can either glue these on paper, but sometimes I set up sticky paper on the easel (above photo, left).
Provide single color paint. Try tempera, liquid watercolors, homemade chalk paint, etc. Mix up your painting explorations by sprinkling on salt or experimenting with non-brush tools. It’s okay if all you child wants to do is make a big blob.
Some unusual tools we tried: painting with balloons, dropping string in paint and then dripping it on paper, painting with sponges, painting with bubble wrap or dropping watercolors on giant coffee filters. (I love this post from Learn at Play with Home showing how into green paint her kids got!)
After exploring a secondary color, try color mixing. For example, once Kiddo had spent some time creating with green, I put yellow and blue on the same tray so he could mix up his own color.
Spend time making homemade play dough (a little Google search will result in tons of recipes) or baking soda clay in different colors. Mixing up a batch of dough is half the fun.
Mix up drawing on the easel with drawing on the table. You could even put big paper down on the floor. Use different art supplies like markers, crayons, oil pastels, chalk, and others.
I love office supply stickers for this. They come in a variety of shapes and colors. Stick colors on white or black paper, or even reverse the effect, like Kiddo did when he put orange stickers on white paper and then white stickers on orange paper.
Don’t forget about printing! Kiddo loved to create circle prints with cups (gold rings, above photo top right) and paper rolls. Anything can be used for printing! Glue foam shapes to a piece of cardboard to make abstract stamps, which you see above. The same philosophy applies: print on contrasting paper, or on the same color.
What other ideas can you suggest?
Even if your child is not a reluctant artist, these ideas can inspire them to see the process in a new way. The possibilities are endless and obviously, there are so many more way to create single color art.
I’d love to hear from you if ever one color art with your kids. How did it go?