Art Journaling Kids: Acrylic Backgrounds

"In the Reggio Emilia preschools,
however, each child is viewed
as infinitely capable,
creative, and intelligent.
The job of the teacher
is to support these qualities
and to challenge children
in appropriate ways
so that they develop fully."
~ Louise Boyd Cadwell


20x12" art journal pages (full pages, bottom photo) from altered book project "tekenfilm"

Art journaling is such a perfect match for kids. It fits nicely within my idea of process over product, of letting kids create art as they wish without adults imposing strict rules upon their creations. My kids, who see art journaling almost daily, still aren't all that certain what to do, because there really are no constraints. The first step in getting kids interested in art journaling is definitely experiencing the fun of NO RULES ART. Most kids have done collages since a young age, so my suggestion is to start with backgrounds.

What kid could resist a brayer and wet magenta ink?

Whenever the kids see brayers and block printing ink on the breakfast table, my daily make-shift artspace, they want to do backgrounds for the children's book I'm altering. The right page started with a layer of black gesso applied with a brayer. Next, the kids squeeze one color at a time in small blobs, then roll the brayer in different directions to spread the ink. Then add another color and repeat. No need to properly and evenly ink the brayer. If they want to ink it evenly, just put a blob of block printing ink into a small plastic container (with edges) so that they just run it back and forth in a small space. Less waste.

After applying the paint, have the kids grab anything that can make a mark. Although water-based, block printing inks stain many materials, so choose carefully! Something from the recycling pile perhaps. For these pages, the kids grabbed chopsticks and used them to scribble doodles, creating interest, texture & secret messages. You can use these items to make marks, or dip them in the ink (or thick-bodied acrylic paint) and make marks in other colors. My older daughter made dots with the end of the chopstick. Try using acorns, leaves, erasers & plastic forks.