Smash Painting

This post is authored by Anna Reyner, a registered art therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist. Anna is a nationally recognized arts advocate that has conducted over 500 hands-on art workshops for learners of all abilities. Follow Anna’s blog at Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Eduation.
Special Needs Application:
Perfect for children with impaired fine motor skills.

Try a new technique that kids and adults both have fun with – it’s called “smash painting.” Smash painting releases lots of energy and let’s active children have fun making dots of splashing color. When you use a completely washable paint like Colorations® Liquid Watercolorthere’s no worry about making a mess.
How to begin? First get yourself some sponge tip plastic bottles (called bingo bottles) and a variety of Colorations® Liquid Watercolor paint. Fill each bottle with a different color. You’ll need white construction paper, and if you want to make a portrait like the one pictured here, you’ll need markers for the details in the portrait itself. Smash painting is used for the background in the example shown.

Next, practice smash painting and develop some skill with it by experimenting on a piece of scratch paper. Simply turn your bingo bottle upside down and bang it lightly onto your paper, creating a dot with splash marks coming out from the sides. Try banging the bingo bottle lightly, then harder, and watch how your result changes. Switch colors and overlap splash marks, creating a pattern. Now try making lines and shapes with your bingo bottle and experiment with different effects you can achieve by simply dragging your bingo bottle slowly across the page. Once you’ve practiced and gotten a feel for your materials, you’re ready for your final picture.

The picture or portrait shown here combines watercolor markers in the more controlled figure drawing, with smash painting in the background. The contrast of these two techniques makes an interesting self portrait. To create a portrait like this, first present your class with markers and have them create a central drawing of their choice – in this case, a portrait of themselves. Then demonstrate the smash painting technique and suggest they use this technique for their background. First spend practice time with smash painting. The have children return to their self portrait and smash painting the background. The painting shown here was done with a group of first grade students during one 45 minute art session.

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