New art materials inspire creativity

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Kids Art Materials Inspire Creativity

Sometimes it takes new art materials to inspire a creative approach. I set out a new box of oil pastels and a sheet of paper on the table for Maia when she got home from kindergarten last week. I often do this — set out some art materials (although not usually new) or a simple art project at the kitchen table or in the studio for when Maia gets home. She'll generally work on her creations while we talk and sometimes while I'm putting Daphne down for a nap. It seems to help us transition from school/separate time to home/together time.

Kids Art Materials Inspire Creativity

When I set out the oil pastels she drew a series of people (as well as some flowers and hearts) between the points of a snowflake.

Kids Art Materials Inspire Creativity

Then, she opened a new bag of rainbow feathers and did something really interesting with them. She used masking tape to wrap around the base of each feather a few times and then tape it to her drawing. She's glued feathers to paper as part of collages before, but I've never seen her do this with them. Maybe sometimes it just takes some new materials to inspire creative art.

Kids Art Materials Inspire Creativity

Here's the finished artwork, with colorful feathers taped all over her colorful people.

Kids Art Materials Inspire Creativity

And here's a detail shot of the picture.

Do you find that new art materials inspire your children to work more creatively? I imagine it's not always so, but it does seem to help in our home. Although just as often an old material that has been put away and resurrected works just as well to provide a fresh burst of inspiration.

Note: I am now a Discount School Supply affiliate and the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you follow a link and place a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the sales price from Discount School Supply and will send you virtual hugs.

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  1. says

    I definitely find this to be true in our home. My son will often ask for new materials, too, but even a new blank sketchbook contains so much possibility for him.

  2. Georgine says

    I did by some new materials that we haven’t used yet and it is killing me! I myself can’t wait. I bought the Clementine paints for my baby, and am anxious to introduce her to them. And I love the feathers, so cool. I should get some masking tape, that would be cool to use for masking…..

  3. says

    Hi, new visitor here! Beautiful picture little one!
    I think you’re right, but with us it doesn’t have to be ‘new’ but perhaps just not seen for a while. I keep our creating bits and pieces in a big cabinet and sometimes things get lost in there and then make an appearance 6 months later and it’s as though they’re new.
    I notice a burst of creativity when I offer an unexpected mix of materials – for example play dough and buttons, stickers and crayons, etc. Just like your feathers and masking tape!

  4. says

    Hi there!
    I’ve recently found your blog. And I love it!
    I wrote a post on my lil blog a while ago when I had a sort-out of all our art stuff at home. We were certainly inspired to use new (or rather forgotten!)materials and it makes a refreshing change to just offer something unexpected to spark their imagination.
    Here’s what we did:
    Happy times!
    Julia D

  5. says

    I think novelty definitely results in creativity! I’ve seen that with my little one.
    I don’t normally comment, but I just wanted to give you a big thanks! There’s so many “crafts,” “projects,” and “art” out there for kids, but, while fun and beautiful, much of it is very product oriented.
    It’s really easy to get sucked into projects that require a definite outcome, which is usually a recipe for frustration with a young child. Your blog (and Mary Ann Kohl’s books) always remind me to focus on process, not product, and the results have been amazing in my three year old!
    I think your blog is one of the most process-oriented ones that I’ve run across. Thanks so much!

  6. says

    I know! I can’t resist introducing new materials. Sometimes I’ll buy some for a birthday or Christmas and intend to wait to give them, but then just can’t wait!

  7. says

    Yes, an unexpected mix of materials is just as good at providing new inspiration! And our “new” materials are often old, too — just stored away for a while.

  8. says

    You’re welcome! Thanks for the sweet comment. I learned from the best re: process vs product. When I was just starting out doing art with Maia and the toddler art group, I read MaryAnn Kohl’s books and Susan Striker’s books. They steered me in the right direction!

  9. says

    Oh, absolutely! I think we all enjoy creating with something fresh and new! I think it’s great also to put out art supplies that don’t usually “go together” and see what happens.

  10. ericka says

    I just bought some new materials (most that you have recommended) and my 4yo is loving all the new stuff.

  11. says

    Hi Jean
    I couldn’t see an email address to contact you so I thought I’d just write to you via comments. Some time ago I read a post (somewhere) about different companies that turn your kids art into canvas or jewellery etc. I’m not sure if I read it here or not. If it was you can you please point me int he right direction.

  12. says

    I find the transition time between school and home sometimes difficult for my six-year-old son, so I set out art materials for him to use when he comes home. It gives him a purpose and a way to unwind. Last week I cut out circles and triangles from paper for drawing – thanks for the idea, Jean!

  13. says

    You are so right! Not just for littles, but also for myself! I am a big fan of school supplies. As a kid, I always got so excited about my new school supplies, the fresh promise of new pencils and a new pink eraser… I’m still a bit silly about it. Art supplies are the same. I am dangerous when set loose in an art supply store without a list and a tight budget. I think there’s just so much potential lying in wait with new (or new-again) materials. When you look at them, you don’t see in your mind’s eye all the projects you have already done but rather the creations yet to be!
    I also think it’s a fantastic plan to have those supplies (any supplies!) ready and waiting after school. Little ones can be so fried after a long day, and that creative downtime helps the transition tremendously (at least in our house).
    We are moving in two weeks’ time, and I am excited that our new house will allow for a permanent art space. I can hardly wait to get that started! It will definitely be one of my priority zones when unpacking.

  14. says

    My six year old has always had trouble with transitions. Last year, I found that having some sort of activity for him all ready to go after school helped him transition from school to home. I think I’ll leave out some oil pastels, feathers, and tape today and see what he comes up with!

  15. says

    We just got some plasticine and the kids are loving it. We tried to do some stamping with it after seeing Lindsey’s post on Filth Wizardry (thanks for the interview that led me there) but that didn’t work out very well for us, so they have been using it like playdough for sculpting. We use playdough all the time but something about the difference in texture and the way it can be manipulated has had them captivated for more than an hour! Hooray for new materials.

  16. says

    I saw Lindsey’s post as well and would love to try that stamping. Except that I don’t even know what plasticine is! I imagine you can buy it at the art supply store near the clay and other modeling materials?

  17. says

    Kirsty, I think that post must have been on a different blog. I don’t know about companies that turn kids art into canvases and jewelry. I’m sure there are plenty out there, though! Good luck…

  18. says

    The funny thing is, I didn’t even leave the tape and feathers out with the oil pastels. She had remembered the feathers and sought them out after doing her drawing.
    Did your son have fun with the oil pastels and feathers?

  19. says

    Yes, we got ours at Michaels. I just got white because I planned to use it for the stamping but they have all various colors, which I should have gotten in retrospect. It is stiff and was hard at first for my 3 year old to get going but once it softened up they stayed at it for a LONG time. :)