This time of year is so very beautiful and nature is displaying a whole array of different and interesting natural textures, materials, shapes and colours. It’s a perfect time to get out exploring and to bring some natural inspiration into craft and art activities.
When Roo asked me if she could do some ‘painting in the garden’ it was a perfect excuse to take her at her words quite literally and use some messy play time to explore leaves, plants and natural materials as well.
Pegging out some newspaper on the patio to take the brunt of any paint spills, I set out a plate of paint and brushes and paper weighed down under rocks, ready for Roo’s artistic endeavours.
Next came the fun bit – foraging in the garden and hedges for suitably interesting materials. Roo gathered dandelion flowers, sticks, stones, fennel, mint and ivy leaves as well as seed heads. Long blades of grass and bamboo made for a contrast in shape and a few feathers provided some fun texture.
Clutching her hoard of nature goodies, Roo set to work. I soon removed the brushes – with them to hand, she reverted to habit and started blobbing excess paint on everything with her usual abandon. Without, Roo was quickly absorbed in the different patterns and potential of each natural material selected and spent ages experimenting with their different shapes, textures and sizes. It was interesting watch her work out for herself what worked and what didn’t – she was quite sad about the disappointing painting results for instance of a particularly interestingly shaped stone she had found. The range of actions needed to get a result was also fun – from flicking the fennel softly, stamping the leaves, rolling stones or printing the seed heads, every material needed a slightly different approach.
I had hoped the outdoor painting would be both a good messy play and sensory play activity but it actually yielded some pretty good results for toddler artwork too! The seed heads and fennel were particularly fascinating for Roo as they gave a kind of firework splattering effect on paper. Her favourite material was probably the grass though on account of the fact she got to completely submerge it in all the paints and then squiggle it about snake style on the paper with a satisfyingly multicoloured outcome for both artwork and Roo’s hands! I might have a go at using painted fennel leaves myself sometime – I reckon they would produce some pretty nice home-made wrapping paper!
This was a great fun activity with very little set-up involved and more interesting than our average indoor painting sessions. It also gave us both an excuse to get outdoors, explore nature and learn some more plant names – always a bonus in this family! Now we’ve got the bug for outdoor art I also have a feeling it is going to become a regular feature! If you have any other ideas for future projects, please share them!