Art Festival Activities Inspire Children to Express their Creativity

by BarbRad

Attending an art festival can awaken or encourage a child's creativity. Watch how children express themselves in the Children's Zone at the Paso Robles 2012 Festival of the Arts.

After attending the Paso Robles Festival of the Arts in 2012, I was amazed at all the activities available there for the children who attended. How I wish my own children had had this kind of opportunity available to them in the city where we lived. Many of these same activities could be done at home, and the summer is an excellent time to encourage creative activities, since children can become bored when school vacation comes.

Many Hands Make High Sand Castles

Sculpture to Do at the Beach
All Ages Can Build Sand Castles Together
All Ages Can Build Sand Castles Together
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights Reserved

We Are Born with the Inclination to Create

Parents Can Help Inspire their Children to Use their Creativity and Develop their Talents

Many children believe they have no artistic talent. They may also believe that drawing and painting are the only arts that count. Someone may have laughed at their early attempts to draw or color or paint, and they may have given up. But there are other artistic talents to be discovered and developed -- music, dance, sculpture, recycled objects art, quilting and other fabric arts, jewelry making, and creating with wood and other three-dimensional materials. 

Over the past three years I've been attending annual art festivals and hanging around Studios on the Park, a community of artists with open studios all under one roof.  It serves as an art hub for our community of Paso Robles, California, and I've become acquainted with several artists there. I am amazed at the different exhibits hosted by Studios on the Park and the talents of the resident artists and artisans. There are photographers, sculptors, painters in various styles and media, print makers, a silversmith -- you name it. Many of these artists use a variety of art forms and media to create. 

At a time when the arts are being excluded from the school curriculum in many public schools who claim they can't afford to teach or support the fine arts anymore, parents and the community itself may have to step in to provide encouragement and training in the arts. The City of Paso Robles and Studios on the Park, along with numerous art patrons, have stepped in to help support art in our community, and everyone benefits. The big art event of the year is the Festival of the Arts, and it is the perfect place to help children explore the creative side of their personalities. As you watch the video below, I hope it will give you some ideas to help your own children develop the artist part of their natures. After the video, I'll give you some other ideas and suggest resources to help you. 

What Children Did to Enjoy the Art Festival

Some of these might work at home with your children.

Photos of Art Festival Activities Children Loved

These were in the children's area.
Face Painter at Work
Face Painter at Work
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Daddy Takes Picture of Daughter's Newly Painted Face
Daddy Takes Picture of Daughter's New...
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Making Stained Glass Art
Making Stained Glass Art
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Everyone enjoys working on the public mural each year.
Everyone enjoys working on the public...
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Children Create Abstract Art by Blowing through Straws
Children Create Abstract Art by Blowi...
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Deb's Zany Hats. Each child creates a unique hat from provided materials.
Deb's Zany Hats. Each child creates a...
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Irresistible Chalk Resist, Hosted by Paso Robles Art Association
Irresistible Chalk Resist, Hosted by ...
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Pointillism, Hosted by Paso Robles Library Foundation
Pointillism, Hosted by Paso Robles Li...
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Rose Petal Wading Pools
Rose Petal Wading Pools
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Musical Petting Zoo, hosted by SLO Symphony
Musical Petting Zoo, hosted by SLO Sy...
©B. Radisavljevic, 2011, All Rights R...

Let's Take a Closer Look at the Variety of Art Activities in the Video

Then we will look at some from last year that were different.

Since this was a large festival sponsored by the City of Paso Robles, Studios on the Park,  and several large donors who contributed to make it a success, the organizers were able to hire some professionals to provide some of the activities. Other activities were sponsored by some of the  various youth or service organizations. I believe some businesses paid to participate, such as the face painters, just for the publicity they would get, since thousands of people come to this event who might want to hire them to do parties later on.  

Here are some activities I observed at this year's event which were appealing to children. 

  • Face Painting: Although the children weren't painting their own faces, this is a popular attraction every year I've attended the Festival of the Arts. There is a small fee for a painted face.
  • Making Stained Glass Art: The Boys and Girls Club and the SLO Museum of Art worked together to provide this creative experience for children. The glass used for this activity consisted of bottles and glasses. 
  • The Public Mural: This mural is an annual event and is inspired by the Salinas River which flows through Paso Robles. Henry AJ Ramos and the Artists Reimagining Color youth group help to direct this project. All ages can participate. The canvas for the mural is 60 feet long, and facing Spring Street.
  • Blow Art: In this activity, children use regular drinking straws to blow air that directs the paint on their paper into interesting patterns and designs. One can begin by blowing gently, and then try blowing faster to experiment. One can also tilt the straw or change its length. This activity is called "Puff it Paint" in the book Scribble Art by MaryAnn Kohl, a great resource for independent creative art experiences you can encourage your children to do. It tells you how to create an art center for your children at home and lists basic art materials you will need for it. Your children will never be bored when they have leisure time if you have this book around and use it. Activities are indexed by experience level, art technique, the amount of planning needed, and what cautions need to be observed. 
  • Deb's Zany Hats: This booth facilitated children making their own fancy hat from paper bags and decorating them with a variety of materials. I'm sure this could easily be done at home with what you can find around the house -- yarn, paint, glue, markers, stickers, pictures cut from magazines -- whatever you've got at your house. Making your own party hats could be a fun birthday party activity.  
  • Irresistible Chalk Resist: The Paso Robles Art Association helped with this activity in which the children colored their papers with crayons and chalk. Then they traced a drawing out of the chalk onto paper. I wasn't at the booth long enough to see the whole process and the finished work, but the children were enjoying it.
  • Pointillism Meets Pollock: This activity was sponsored by the Paso Robles Library Foundation. I'm still trying to understand the name of the activity, since Pointillism was introduced by Georges Seurat. Pointillism is painting in bright colors in tiny, precise dots in such a way that when the dots are viewed from the proper distance they blend together and seem to glisten. The only place on line I could find Pollock's name associated with Pollock was in conjunction with the work of Martina Nehrling, who used used bright bands of color in her work. Jackson Pollock, on the other hand, was known for action painting. He would involve his whole body into throwing and spattering his paint on canvas he had placed on the ground. Your kids might really enjoy imitating this technique. I suggest they do it outside, as Pollock did. His "Action Spatter" activity is described in Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl, the author of Scribble Art described above. It's arranged the same way as the other book, but the projects are arranged to help children learn about famous artists and try their techniques. There is also an activity called "Pointillist Color Cards" in this book to help students experiment with Seurat's technique. In it, children use cotton swabs to make their points rather than the sponge topped bottles the children are using in the picture here to make their bookmarks. Cotton swabs can, of course, make smaller points. This is a wonderful book for parents and teachers to keep handy. 
  • Rose Petal Pool Playing Area: This might require too many rose petals to try at home, but the idea is probably self-explanatory.
  • Musical Petting Zoo: This annual activity is designed to help students try out various musical instruments they might want to consider playing. From brass to percussion, most instrument families are represented. The only one I didn't notice being there were the woodwinds. This activity is presented by the SLO Symphony.

Does your town have an art fair or festival that includes activities for children?

Great Art Books You Can Buy to Keep Your Kids From Getting Bored During School Vacations

These are full of art activity ideas for home and school educators, too.
Ed Emberley's Great Thumbprint Drawing Book

Instructions for creating a variety of shapes and figures using thumbprints and a few simple lines.

$10.99  $14.95
Ed Emberley's Complete Funprint Drawing Book

ver two million copies of Ed Emberley's innovative drawing books have been sold throughout the years. For the first time, we present a two-in-one edition of two of his most popu...

$12.99  $12.5
Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters (Bright I...

Featuring more than 150 activities, this guide teaches the styles, works, and techniques of the great masters—Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and more.

$2.47  $24.99
Scribble Art: Independent Creative Art Experiences for Children (Bright Ideas for Learning)

Enter the world of creativity where children's imaginations soar with this broad spectrum of over 240 open-ended art activities and ideas. These projects allow each child to par...

$14.18  $6.79
Science Arts: Discovering Science Through Art Experiences (Bright Ideas for Learning)

Children explore the world of science through art with these open-ended experiments categorized by scientific topic. Hundreds of art activities amaze and delight children as the...

$22.93  $9.99
Great American Artists for Kids: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great American Masters...

Fun and easy art-appreciation activities abound in this resource that features 75 American artists from colonial times to the present. A brief biography for each artist tells wh...

Only $3.06

Art Activities at the 2011 Paso Robles Festival of the Arts

These often used techniques of well-known artists.
Botticelli Art in the Round
Botticelli Art in the Round
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Tie Dye Art
Tie Dye Art
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
Fingerprint Art
Fingerprint Art
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...
The Paint Jam was very popular.
The Paint Jam was very popular.
©B. Radisavljevic, 2012, All Rights R...

Children's Activities at the 2011 Art Festival

Activities at the Festival of the Arts Vary from Year to Year

In 2011, most of the hands-on art activities in the children's zone were related to various artists and their styles. As you can see in the pictures, one of these activities was related to Botticelli, who liked to make round paintings. There were other activities related to other artists' styles. Although I don't have the picture, one of them was inspired by Michelangelo. Children lay down under a table and painted on a large paper taped to the table's underside. Directions for reproducing this activity in your home are found in Kohl's book referenced above, Discovering Great Artists.  The link is in the module above if you want to buy it. Directions for the Botticelli activity are also there.

The tie dye art was supposedly inspired by Peter Max, since he was "king" of the hippy period when it was a very popular style. MaryAnn Kohl calls it  "Paper Dip and Dye" in Scribble Art, also referenced in the previous text module. You can also buy it from the module above. If you have older children, there are directions on line for making a tie dye t-shirt or other garment.

Another 2011 activity was fingerprint art such as that made famous by Ed Emberly in his many art books. I have listed those for you in the Great Art Books module above to make them easy to find and buy. Children love Ed Emberly. When I did school book fairs and home school conventions, his books flew off the shelves. 

This last photo from the 2011 art festival is the Paint Jam. A business located on the Central Coast of California brings to your party or corporate event everything needed, including the apron and easel, to paint a picture to take home with you. I don't know if similar businesses exist elsewhere, but I certainly would have considered using them when I had kids if I'd known about them. The children (or adults) have a wonderful art experience and there is no mess the hostess has to clean up afterwards. PaintJamUSA cleans it up. If you're looking for a business idea, this just might work for you. 

The Sand Masters

We will end where we began.

The very first photo I showed you and a good part of the video were devoted to the sand sculpture everyone was enjoying so much. This was made possible by the Sand Masters. Judging from the pictures I took and Morgan's telling me her name, I'm guessing the adults who helped out for the Paso Robles Art Festival were Morgan Rudluff and Rusty Croft. The Sand Masters are professional sand sculptors, and if your kids love building sand castles and other original sand masterpieces, maybe they can aspire to be Sand Masters. There are some how-to videos on the the Sand Masters website. This one links to How to Build a Sand Castle

The whole point of an art festival is to give people new art experiences by exposing them to a variety of art genres and activities. (Of course, the artists also hope you'll like some of their work enough to buy it.) It helps put people, including children, in touch with the creative part of their personalities. As a parent, you should take your children to an art festival, if possible. If not, you can help them at home with some of the ideas and resources presented here, to have similar experiences at home. And if you go to the beach, they can always try sand sculpture. 

Updated: 05/27/2016, BarbRad
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BarbRad on 02/03/2018

Thank you. Most children really enjoy expressing themselves in artistic ways.

blackspanielgallery on 05/12/2017

Having an art festival is a wonderful idea. Well illustrated to show the whole of the contest.

Tolovaj on 02/01/2016

I am also a big fan of all activities, where the creativity of children is encouraged. Unfortunately all such festivals cost money and due reccession we lost several of them in recent years. I hope the economy improves soon!

katiem2 on 12/17/2012

Arts are very big in our area. The arts do offer so many positive aspects to the community and continued growth in education. Great article! :)K

BarbRad on 12/14/2012

Some people just read for information and don't bother to comment. Thank you for taking the time to let me know you liked this. I apologize for not being here in a timely manner. I was caught up in off-line activities.

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