Body Tracing Art with Splatter Painting and Collage

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There has been a lot more body tracing and painting going on around here. These days Maia especially likes me to trace her body in a variety of action poses, like this one. The paper is from that big roll of contractor’s paper ($10 at Lowes!) that I’ve mentioned before and am so glad I have now. The paint is watercolor paint, mixed up from tubes, and left over from making our leaf stained glass door (plus red, per request).


There are times when I seriously wish I had never encouraged this child to splatter with paint. I mean, what was I thinking?! She considers it a legitimate painting technique (and of course it is; I’m being facetious), one of many in her considerable four-year-old arsenal. Since it was just watercolors, I let her continue, just asked her to keep her wrist flicks modest to avoid paint on the sofa and walls. If it had been any other paint I would have asked her to splatter paint outside or in the studio only.


I hung her painting up on the wall. Because of the action pose she looks like she’s flying through the air. The blue pony tails sticking out could be wings; the splatters, fairy dust.


Here’s one that Maia started collaging. She never finished it (it’s quite large, after all!), but I love how it looks with the button face and the metal washers for chest decoration.

What kind of art making are your kids doing these days?


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  1. says

    WHY in the world do you not have a book? Or, do you? I was perusing your ideas link the other day and was overwhelmed by your ideas. I’ve actually found so many projects I want to do I’ve been making lists and categorizing them with supply lists so I can remember to get to them… Your projects are great because they’re often fairly simple and inexpensive, but also fun and beautiful!
    That looks great on your wall! Thanks for the tip about contractors paper… would never have thought of that!

  2. tasha says

    Brilliant post! My 4 year old is pretty obsessed with splattering, too. He’s big on fountains, has been all his life. Splattering is fountains to him. The walls near his painting space are always covered in paint, no matter how much they get cleaned.

  3. says

    I agree with Kendra about the book — it would be great. And, I often think why have I let them use [insert whatever material that is making a huge mess here]. But they love it, even if it does mean glitter in the baby’s hair or pencil on the walls. :)

  4. says

    the picture on the wall looks great, and I thought they were wings!
    We have been painting big too but we have been doing it on the road and because it is the rainy season it washes off everyday so we have to start again.

  5. Amy says

    The splatter outline is fabulous on the wall. And I love that she’s mimicking the stance as she views it. You’re the one always encouraging us to be brave when it comes to allowing the messes to happen. Aren’t you glad you did? Just think (if it will survive) how fun that splattered outline painting will be in 10 years (or at least these photos of it) or in 20 years?!
    So, something about tracing Maia in action reminded me of these super fun pictures of kids… Jan Von Holleben took them (Dreams of Flying Series if the link doesn’t work) They make me smile when I see them. I just imagine how much fun was had creating the illusions.
    Today we were stamping and designing wrapping paper using box filler from a package, which led to body tatoos, and a cardboard pirate ship turned magic box, and then led to playdough confectionery and the creation of elaborate cupcakes and cookies. I think I’ve vacuumed like 3 times today.

  6. says

    Life size scale is brilliant. Last Christmas I traced around every family member with chalk on a wooden deck outside. The impressions were beautiful. I have also attempted a life size collage with my son some time ago. He cut out things he liked from magazines/junk mail and stuck them around himself. He really loved it. Simple hand tracings are also really touching, my 2 year old insists hers in done in every card that leaves this house. An impression of a child’s hand seems to capture time in some little way.

  7. says

    Hi Jean, I’ve been meaning to ask you for ages what you use to stick up your pictures with – both on the wall, and on windows. We’ve used bluetack on walls but it leaves such horrible marks. And for window regular tape also leaves sticky patches – so if you’ve got some better suggestions about what to use to (temporarily) hang art work I’d love to hear them!

  8. says

    That’s funny – we just did big drawings too. I love the action shot.
    I use masking tape and sometimes painter’s tape works well.
    I agree – Jean needs a book.