If, Richard Patterson, 1999, oil paint

Richard Patterson, England


Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, fractional and promised gift to the Denver Art Museum, 2001.808

Drip Drop Paint

Children discover what happens when paint drips over a 3-D form. Pouring one color at a time, children see the effect of layering colors.

Designate a space that would allow students to explore with paints… this might get messy, use smocks! Model this as a small group before placing in a self-guided area.

  • Invite students to choose a figurine (ex: recycled items).
  • Have the young artists place figurines in a tray.
  • Provide students with small cups of paint (thick tempura paint will adhere to the form best).
  • Encourage students to pour the paint over the figurines one color at a time
  • Ask questions to guide their exploration and to encourage creative thought and vocabulary.

Guiding questions:

  • What shapes do the paints make?
  • What happens when the colors overlap?
  • Where do you see colors swirling?
  • How can you tell which color was poured first? Last?
  • How is your art the same as/different than the art of another student?
Pouring yellow paint into a cup

Pour a small amount of paint into cups before children begin the exploration.

Plastic figurines in a tray

Have the young artists place plastic figurines, recycled objects, etc in a tray.

Paint dripping over a plastic pineapple form

Young artists will pour the paint one color at a time over the forms. Use the guiding questions to help them explore.

Plastic pineapple form is covered in pink, yellow, green and blue paint

Encourage the young artists to think about their finished work with guiding questions.

Related Resources

  • Turn a mistake into something beautiful
    Book Recommendation

    Turn a mistake into something beautiful

    We all make mistakes, but then what? This engaging book will encourage students to turn a drip or torn paper into a work of art. 

    Prompting questions:

  • What to do when you get stuck
    Book Recommendation

    What to do when you get stuck

    After reading about Vashti, students will be left feeling the possibilities of making art even when they aren't sure where to begin. 

    Prompting questions:

    • How many different kinds of marks can you make on your paper?
    • How did Vashti feel when she starting making marks?
    • What do you do when you get stuck?

  • The Dot
    Lesson Plan

    The Dot

    Early childhood (ages 3-5)
    One 30 minute lesson

    Inspired by Vance Kirkland’s Blue Mysteries Near the Sun, No. 4 and Peter H.

  • Blanket/Rug with bright red, white, and blue patterns in various shapes
    Art Exploration

    Weaving with Various Materials

    Young children make creative choices while practicing fine motor skills of weaving and threading using various materials, also exposing them to textures and creative elements.

    Provide an 8x10 piece of felt that has slits one inch a part almost the entire width of the piece. Leave a one inch space around the entire felt piece as a border.

    Provide various material choices to weave in and out of the slits.

  • Theodore Waddell, Motherwell’s Angus, 1994. Oil paint on canvas. Denver Art Museum; Gift of Barbara J. and James R. Hartley.
    Art Exploration

    Tinker with Mark Making Tools

    Using uncommon painting tools allow children creativity and a choice when determining what and how to create their artwork.  

    Artists often tinker with non-conventional tools to help create their art. In Motherwell’s Angus, artist Theodore Waddell uses masonry trowels and specially modified brushes originally intended to apply tar to roofs to create a heavy build-up of paint on the surface of the canvas.

  • Sam Gillam, Abacus Sliding, 1977
    Art Exploration

    Layers of Resist

    Young artists will explore negative space by layering paper to resist paint and create a pattern. This activity will support children in discovering how to create shapes through resist. 

    Ideas for the Art Center:

    • Add pre-cut paper shapes in various sizes.
    • Painters tape
    • Rollers with ink or paint
    • Paper