The Usborne Book of Art Ideas is a cute miniature (5″x7″) hardcover book packed with neat projects that are very handily arranged by medium (watercolor paints, inks, and chalk pastels for example). The photographs are bright and very appealing (very much like those in the DK Publishing books if you are familiar with those).
This book seemed like an Amazon bargain to me at only $7.95 for a hardcover with tons of ideas (over 200, the cover claims). Plus it is eligible for Amazon’s 4-for-3 Promotion.
The ideas are very original and doable with things that most families have on hand. A few that struck me as interesting are:
- Glue pictures (creating a raised pattern or drawing using Elmer’s-type white glue)
- Blow paintings (using a straw to blow paint around on paper to create spiky shapes)
- Pulled cardboard prints (using thick cardboard to spread paint on paper)
- Cracked wax effect (creating a crackle appearance using crayons and paint)
There are also tips for working with each different medium as well as technical hints such as painting perspective, painting skies, etc.
This book is also full of useful odd bits of information. Did you know that “If you sprinkle salt onto watercolor paint, the salt soaks up the color, and leaves a grainy effect when it dries” (p.58). This makes sense now that I think about it, but it never would have occurred to me before I read this.
I would try out these ideas with my 5 and 7 year-old, but for the under-4 set, many of them might be too complex or messy. Imagine a 3 year-old blowing paint, the image is not a pretty one! A few of the ideas might be easily adapted to younger children though, so if you are interested, check it out of the library and take a look.
There is also an interesting-sounding large Usborne book called The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. According to an Amazon reviewer, it is apparently a compilation of this little book, plus two other Usborne titles: The Usborne Book of Art Skills and The Usborne Book of Art Projects (Art Ideas). This might be a good one to look at too if you think you might also buy the other books in the series.
The Usborne Book of Art Ideas inspires me to drop my laundry basket and sit down to do some art. In fact, I think I shall!
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