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

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

Tinker with Mark Making Tools

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.

Materials for the Art Center:

  • Potato masher
  • Dish cleaning brushes
  • Toy cars
  • Legos, blocks
  • Combs
  • Artificial flowers
  • Dried Indian Corn or a corn cob
  • Nature ideas: pine cones, pine needles, flowers, rocks, twigs, and leaves

Model for children how they can make their own mark-making tools with a clothespin and one of the materials in the center. With either the kitchen tools or child-made “brushes,” invite young artists to paint and experiment with the strokes they can create on paper.

Guiding questions:

  • What do you notice about using these different tools?
  • How are their strokes different or similar?
  • Why do some materials hold more or less paint?
  • What are some other tools you might like to try?

Gather materials for exploration.

Use muffin tins for paint for easy prep and cleanup.

Let children explore with the marks they make with different materials. Ask questions to guide their thinking, like: “What do you notice about using these different tools? Which one do you like the best?”