Q-tip Pointillism for Kids

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Q-Tip Pointillism for Kids

Remember how I said I usually have a simple art project (or just art materials) set out for when Maia gets home from kindergarten? This q-tip pointillism is one of those projects. Quick to set up and easy to play around with. We've done this a couple times this month. The first time, I set out black and red tempera paint with the q-tips and she drew several pictures with the dots.

Q-Tip Pointillism for Kids

And also wrote her name with dots.

Q-Tip Pointillism for Kids

The second time, I set out yellow and red paint, and talked about how artists sometimes use lots of dots of two colors side by side to give the illusion of color mixing. So, of course she was eager to give it a try, right? Wrong. Instead she used the q-tips to write numbers 1 through 13.

Q-Tip Pointillism for Kids

But then she did try a bit of pointillism afterward.

We've also used cotton balls for big dots. And many a marker has been given a flattened tip in our house by repeated dot making (although not so much lately). I haven't told Maia yet, but I bought some of the Do-A-Dot markers that many of you raved about. We'll have to give them a try soon…

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  1. says

    We just used a pom pom yesterday as a paint brush. You can dot and sweep with it. I never thought of a cotton ball, I bet it would be similar, and I am not wasting pom poms. You can bet, I will be throwing some q-tips in the craft room, I cannot wait for B to try it.

  2. says

    Oh, that’s a great idea! My kids use Qtips for all kinds of different things, but we haven’t tried them for painting yet. I appreciate your tips on how you introduce the activity and what you tell your child about the process, and how you allow it to grow over time in complexity. My son is 8, and is ready for more formal instructions, so that is helpful. Thanks!

  3. Liisa says

    Thank you for the idea, this is great, my daughter did dots/pointillism in her art class yesterday so we can extend this to home. They painted bubble wrap and pressed it on paper to make a print, it was really cool.

  4. [email protected] says

    This is great! I am looking forward to doing this with my son and with my students. I’ve done a similar project on construction paper with cut up sponges. Somehow, I forgot about the Q-Tips! And cotton balls? Fun!

  5. Rachel says

    what a great fun/easy/cheap/open-ended project! what kind of paint is that? i guess you could do it with tempera or watercolors?

  6. says

    I’m setting this one up today! What kind of paint to you use? that looks nice and thick. I’ve been trying to use all natural materials and the natural paint is kind of disappointing. I may be doing it incorrectly (mix from powder).
    I love your blog!!
    thanks for the ideas.

  7. says

    Emily loves q-tip art! It is so much fun as well as great fine motor skills practice too :0)
    Emily and Juliette have the same shirt as Maia so cute!!!

  8. Lisa says

    I currently have this all set up and am waiting for my daughter to wake up from her nap. :)
    By the way, is that poster board that you’ve used as a mat underneath the paper? Seems like a great idea. The mat I used to use for painting activities had to be relocated (under the highchair of a super messy little sister) and I’m using a paper grocery bag but it’s not ideal.
    I’m going to go look for poster board now. Sadly, later I will complain that I barely had time to make dinner. ;)

  9. says

    I think I might try this with the cotton ball mod for Pip. Since he’s only two, he might dip a Qtip in paint, then insert in ear or nostril. Thank you for sharing this!

  10. says

    We don’t buy Q tips, but in the spring we do paint with dandelions! I must think of a good non-dandelion winter substitute…
    We love the Do-a-Dot markers, too. I bought them a couple of summers ago intending them to be a non-messy travel toy, but then I noticed that each marker has over one ounce of liquid paint inside, so I got too chicken to try to sneak them through security at the airport. Instead, they appeared in next Christmas’ stockings, and have been loved ever since.

  11. says

    I know you tried direct instruction about the color mixing effect, but did you start the project with instructions for dots? I’m just wondering if Maia came up with pointillism on her own or if you showed/told her. We’ve tried Q-tips before, but without instruction, they became small paintbrushes (which was fine but not what I had in mind). I was thinking maybe showing some fine art examples of pointillism and making a simple Q-tip point painting of my own to get the idea going. Where did you start?

  12. says

    Oh, yeah, I think I probably said something like, “look, you can make dot paintings with these q-tips!” And, obviously, the q-tips were used as small paintbrushes as well… :) But showing some examples of pointillism first, such as a painting by Seurat online or in a book, might be a good. If the child is younger, I’d just take a q-tip dipped in paint, and jab it at a piece of paper a few times to show how to use it to make dots, then take away your paper and let them go at it. They’ll probably explore all the possibilities of the q-tips — both the dot-making potential and using it as a brush.

  13. Brooke says

    Love your blog! Would you mind telling me where you got those cute containers with the paint in them?

  14. Lilamani says

    This is a great idea I am going to do this project with my kids in school today. Thank you

  15. [email protected] says

    Hello I am a dad and looking for art ideas for my 2 year old. Is that too young to introduce her to craft? She seems to be interested to only put paint on her hand and put it on the paper. But I have a feeling she is understanding colors better this way. Anyway any craft ideas for that age would be apreciated.

  16. says

    I was talking with my son about pointillism earlier tonight while we were reading his bedtime stories. I haven’t had a chance to think about how we would pursue this as a project so it was really great to come across your post. This is a wonderful idea for sharing this style with young children. Thanks!