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Two Easy Kids’ Art Hacks for Lazy Fall Weekends

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The coming fall makes lazy afternoons and weekends even more relaxing, but also sometimes, well, a little boring for kids.

When boredom strikes before all the seasonal activities begin, here are a couple of easy art hacks to pass an afternoon without sitting on a tablet or phone.

Bead Painting

ChainArt
All levels of artists and crafters can make cool abstract art with paint and some old bead necklaces. All images: Lisa Tate

This is the “chain pulling” art hack that has been a popular one for artists on social media, but it is really too easy and fun not for all ages to try.

You’ll need a cheap piece of art canvas (I got mine at a dollar store), different colors of acrylic paint, and some old party beads. These shouldn’t be hard to find.

First, give the canvas a thick layer of whatever color you want in the background. You don’t have to let it dry, as the wet paint will help the pulling work more smoothly.

Next, cut a few bead chains. Use any number you like, but I would keep it somewhere between three and six. Make sure these aren’t necklaces you want to wear again, of course. They can, however, be rinsed and used again for painting.

One at a time lay each chain down on the canvas, in a snaky pattern, making sure the bottom ends all meet and hang off the edge.

Pour a few different colors of paint separately into small paper cups. Gently pour each color over the chains. Don’t worry if the paint runs together.

beadartsteps
Give a plain canvas a thick layer of paint. Add the beads and colored paint and drag them over the canvas for a cool pattern.

Now for the fun part! Grab the end of the beads at the bottom, and gently pull them down across the canvas.

The result will be a cool pattern that looks like some sort of undersea animal or outer space plant.

Spray over with some clear acrylic sealant for extra projection, if desired.

If you want to make a miniature one, you can use just one bead chain (or even a piece of yarn) on a small piece of canvas or thick watercolor paper.

Cloud Characters

CloudArt
Use a cloud as a guide to create a fantasy character or scene.

I used to imagine doing this very thing when I was sitting in the back seat of my parents’ car on long road trips, and now I’m seeing people do it all the time.

The idea and the method are extremely easy, and, well, the sky’s the limit.

All you have to do is look at the clouds. Snap a picture of one you find beautiful or interesting. Print it out, and draw the character or image you see directly on the image. Use marker, crayon, or colored pencil, and be as detailed or minimalist as you like. You will be surprised by what is hiding in the clouds once you look closer.

Printing on cardstock keeps the picture tidier, but plain old copy paper is fine.

cloudartsteps
Take a picture, print it out, and sketch over it. That’s all there is to it!

Speaking of road trips, this is also something a kid can do on a tablet while driving. Snap the picture, pull it up in an art app like Procreate, and draw away. I do like printing it out if you’re not on the road because making sure kids have away time from these devices is the whole purpose of these projects at home.

Like many art hacks and easy family projects, it is tempting to make more than one, and I strongly encourage it. Create a whole series for your room, or save up a few to give as homemade gifts.

Fall is just about here, but that also means gift-giving season is approaching fast.

What better way for kids to get ahead of the gifting while having fun doing it on a fall afternoon?

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