Candy Cane Still Life

At least half of the art activities that happen in our home are improvisations. Today was another rainy day, and after setting up a marble run, sommersaulting off the couch, playing with neighborhood friends, and jumping in puddles, I pulled Candy Can Still Life out of my rabbit hat. It was a short activity, but totally worthwhile and applicable, I think, to a wide variety of ages. In terms of creating a still life, my toddler (is 2.5 still a toddler? I’m not so sure.) isn’t at all interested in depicting objects realistically, but at her age we could take inspiration from the colors of candy canes.


  • Black paper
  • Silver Sharpie
  • Red and White Chalk

I started by placing a black paper in front of her and asking, “What color are candy canes?” After a silent pause, I brought out the glass full of canes for further investigation, and we saw that they’re red and white!  This was my cue to “dig up” some red and white mark-making tools. I also asked if she’d like the silver sharpie. Um, yeah, have you ever met a toddler who didn’t want to draw with a Sharpie? Not likely.

After drawing with the Sharpie, she played around with the red chalk, and became fascinated with how it broke apart when she made forceful polkadots on the page. The smearing was pretty interesting, but after getting covered with a handful of red dust she was done. Fair enough.

I like how the vivid colors pop off the black background. While my child-art-projects generally have a focus on process over product, as this one does, I also really like how it turned out. The coherency of the final product seems to be the result of working within the constraints of limited materials. Professional artists work well with constraints, and I believe that children benefit from a similar approach to art making. So there you have it…a Candy Cane Still Life, of course!

If you try this out, I’d love to hear from you! Happy Drawing, and Happy Holidays!


  1. says

    wow N! I see a candy cane form in your drawing. we are definately going to use this as a project this week. I need every project possible with this rain!!

    • rachelle says

      You know, it wasn’t until I read this that I saw the candy cane too…thanks for making me look at it more closely. Good luck with all the rain. I think we have at least four more days of it. Sigh.

  2. says

    I just bought 2 silver sharpies yesterday! Maybe we’ll try this out in some form, too…Love the colors and contrast of the materials and the colors black, silver and red.

  3. Amber Peckham says

    I am a painter and the youngest of 3 kids in my family (16) and being youngest out of all the cousins and not having a job I end up baby sitting most of my cousin’s children or my 6 year old nephew, Conner on my off time. This leaves me with no time to myself to paint. this actually gives me a chance for them to show their artistic skills and for me to have some down time drawing the same thing.
    now every week we go to the store down the street and pick out one thing to draw.

    • rachelle says

      Hi Amber!
      Thanks for sharing your experience with this. I love how you make a ritual out of choosing an object from the store each week — I bet that my kids would love that. Happy new year!