Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Painting Pete the Cat with Kids--A Tutorial

Last Fall, Noodlebug saw me painting and asked if he could paint too. He wanted to use a real canvas. Since you can get a package of canvases at Michael's for fairly cheap with a 40% off coupon, I agreed.

I asked him what he would like to paint and he said he wanted to do a painting of Pete the Cat. Here is his painting of Pete:

People find it hard to believe a 5-yr-old did this painting. But he did! We did it using shapes. Remember that class we took at the Schulz Museum?   That is what gave me the idea.  We broke Pete down into shapes.  Want to make your own?  This is a great adult/child activity to do together.

You will need:

  • canvas (a big one--I think ours was about 16 x 20)
  • acrylic paints  (Blue, Yellow, White, Black, Brown)--These really work best with canvas. We used the cheap kind from Michael's.
  • Good brushes--Don't use the cheap plastic kid kind. Both of you will get frustrated. Let your child use the GOOD brushes.
  • Paint Pallet--You can use a cheap plastic paint pallet from Michael's, a paper plate, or even an egg carton
  • A picture to look at for reference

1. Start with the background.  We chose a nice bright yellow.  It was a great way for him to get used to the paint and the brushes.  Keep some of this paint handy in case you need to overpaint areas for correction.

2. You'll be using a nice bright blue paint for most of Pete. Start with Pete's body. I told Noodlebug that we need to make a long skinny rectangle.  We talked about whether this rectangle should have pointy corners or rounded corners.  Help your child with placement. You can use pencil or marker first but I just let Noodlebug jump right in with paint. You can always add to or cover up as needed.

3. Next, do the head.  Depending on the age of the child, you can refer to the shape in a number of ways. Noodlebug and I talked about how Pete's head is shaped like a football. You can also tell your child to start with a long letter "U" and then an upside down letter "U" top. Or, do a smile first and then a frown on top!

4. Next, paint on the ears!  The ears are just long triangles!

5. We then gave Pete an arm. His arm is just a long skinny rectangle.

6. Pete's hand is a skinny circle. Or an oval if you child knows the term.  You can use the same shape for his feet!

9. Next up is Pete's tail!  I told Noodlebug to make a big letter C!  You child can either do a thick letter C or add another C next to the first one and connect them.

10. We return to the same shape we used for the head to do Pete's eyes using yellow paint.


11. For Pete's pupils, start with white paint. Have your child make a circle shape with the white paint in the middle of the eyes next to the top lid.  Later, you will "dot" in the black pupil.

12. Add in Pete's nose with white paint.  Pete's nose is an upside-down triangle!

13. Finally, have your child draw some straight lines for whiskers.

We added a cup of hot chocolate in Pete's hand to match the picture we were using for reference. You can put anything in his hand!  To make the hot chocolate mug in Noodle's painting, use the letter "C" for the cup handle. The cup itself is a rectangle. Noodle painted a white circle at the top of the mug to make it look more like a mug. He then painted a brown circle inside the mug for the hot chocolate and made his own swirl for steam.

There were times when Noodle got frustrated.  The tail and the whiskers were the hardest part for him. You can see that I over-painted some areas in yellow so he could start over.  Ultimately, he was happy with the result. We aren't going for perfection!  It is more important that the child have fun creating.  Try not to step in and "fix" their work. If they ask for help, then go for it! Otherwise, let them paint their vision.

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