“The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.”
— Jackson Pollack, American Painter
Creating string art is a fun mix of art, creative thinking, and experimentation all rolled into one open-ended package.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that when it comes to children’s projects, my focus lies on the experience of creating more than the product.
My 4-year old, who has been calling herself Leia for the past month (as in Princess Leia — and yes, she’s been wearing the Leia costume she got for Christmas for the past 24 hours!), adds string to everything she makes. And my 2-year old, who we like to call Rainbow on this blog (here’s the story of how that began), said that she wanted to paint. So this experience was the perfect marriage of their interests on this rainy morning.
To get started, you only need a few simple materials.
- Washable tempera paint, poured into small bowls
- Short pieces of string
- Copy paper and/or cardstock
- Spoons to help cover the string in paint
- Table covering (optional)
- Baby wipes or a damp towel to clean hands
Without giving my children too much direction, I like to set up our projects up as invitations to create. I might make a suggestion or give a brief prompt, but I trust that the materials speak volumes to children. The less that I interject, the more opportunity they’ll have to find their own voice and make independent decisions.
With this project, Leia and Rainbow spent some time dancing their painted strings across the paper. After this ran its course I folded a sheet of paper in half and offered a suggestion that they could try pulling the string through the shut paper.
This resulted in a symmetrical mirror image painting, which inspired Leia to try pulling more than one string through the paper at once. She then tested the process of holding one paint-soaked string in each hand, and pulling them through at the same time. I obviously needed to step in an assist her on this one.
They struggled with gaining control over the string and occasionally complained about getting paint on their hands, but the complexity of working with this tricky combination of paint and string challenged them to work with familiar materials in a new way.
- Compare the effect of the painting string on different papers.
- Try holding a piece of paint-soaked string in each hand.
- Cut different lengths of string.
- Try this on a LARGE scale, with thick yarn or rope and a large tarp.
- Try one of these pulled string painting techniques from Trisha at Inspiration Laboratories
- Try string painting over photocopies.
- What else could you paint on? How about foam stickers?
Would you try this combination in your home? Have you tried it already?