summer art

Summer Art

Have you been spending more time outside? Schools have wrapped up the year and the weather is warm and sunny, at least around Pittsburgh it is. I know my nieces and nephews are banging the door down to get outside. With all the great outdoors to explore, some may think art must be put on a back burner. But the summer is actually a great time to do art and be outside at the same time! Here are some summer special art activities you can do in the great outdoors (and some that you should only do there!)

Nature Collage

The kids that I know love playgrounds, but their parents want to be active too. Walks are a great way to enjoy the summer weather for adults, but sometimes kids think they’re boring. An easy way to make your walk fun for kids and adults alike is to go on a nature scavenger hunt. It’s not as complicated as it might sound. Simply print off a list of items to look for or collect during your walk. You can find plenty of them online. (Here is a collection of 30 free nature scavenger hunts for kids from Buggy and Buddy.) As you walk, toss your items in a bag and bring them back to the house. (Please be mindful of any rules about removing items from parks and recreational areas near you.)
Now that you have your materials, you are ready to make your collage. Grab a piece of paper and some
glue and you have everything you need. Find a spot to work either outside or inside. Arrange the items
you found during your walk however you like on the page. You can make something abstract, or try to
make a picture from what you have collected. For some inspiration, you can check out these great pictures from Europe through My Eyes. When you are happy, glue your items in place. It’s that simple. For an even greater challenge and something that might interest older kids, check out this post on pressing flowers from Red Ted Art and then make a collage with your pressed flowers.

Water Gun Painting

For most kids, water gun play is a summer only activity, and they love it! A friend was just telling me how her son and his friends ran around their yard for hours simply shooting water at each other. Why not take advantage of this awesome summer activity to create some one of a kind art? Yes, you can make art with water guns when you try water gun painting.
First you will want to make some colored water for your water guns. You will be putting this watery paint
into a squirt gun, so mixing it up in a Ziplock bag is ideal. Try a 50/50 mixture of tempera paint and water.
Then snip the corner off the bag and fill up the gun. You can also color your water with food coloring. But
tempera will give you more vivid colors, and it washes out easily and won’t ruin your guns.
If you like, you can mask off a design on the paper. This just means covering it with masking tape so the paint can’t get through to the paper in that spot. Whatever you tape over will remain white when your picture is finished. (In artistic terms we call this negative space.)
Then all you have to do is let the kids go wild with their water guns. Hang your papers vertically if you can and paint till you are done. This is one of those projects where the process is more important than the product, so don’t worry if your kids have a colorful explosion or a muddy-colored mess on their pages when they are done. Lay your pictures flat to dry and then remove any tape you used to mask off a picture. This will be an experience, and a painting, your child will never forget.

Not Quite Tie-Dyed Shirts

Nothing says summer like a great tie-dyed shirt. As a kid, I made one at just about every summer camp or vacation Bible school I attended. Okay, that may be an exaggeration. But they still make me think of summer. But for many families, the mess just isn’t worth it. Here is an easy way to tie die while minimizing the mess.
Use any color shirt, but white will give you the most vivid colors for your finished shirt. Use sharpies or other permanent, alcohol-based markers. Place the cup inside our shirt and place a rubber band around the top of it. This will give you a circle of the shirt that is stretched flat while the rest of it hangs down around the sides of the cup. Use your markers to draw a design in the circle. When you’re finished, drop some isopropyl alcohol one drop at a time in the center of your design. It will spread outward until it reaches the edges of your cup giving you a circular design and that classic tie-dye look.
Now you can remove the rubber ban, move your cup, and make a design in another place the same way.
Keep going in this manner until you are happy with your shirt, overlapping your circles as desired.
For complete directions, check out this post by Martha Stewart. And for an even greater challenge, use
the same technique to make this awesome Summer Jellyfish Shirt from Think Crafts.
Art doesn’t have to be an inside only activity. Summer is a great time of year, and it’s even greater when
you add some great art activities to the mix. Try one of these or some other art activities of your own
and share your pictures in the comments. I would love to see how they turn out!
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