A fun and simple artist-inspired color exercise for kids using scrap paper squares and a grid! | via barley & birch
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All, Make

Make: A Simple Grid for Color Exploration with Kids

A fun and simple color exercise for kids: scrap paper squares and a grid! Inspired by one of my favorite artists, Stanley Whitney. He describes his paintings as dances and the colors as the rhythm, which perfectly sums up exactly what I love about art!

Although Whitney has been working on his super-cool style throughout his lifetime, he gained critical notoriety in the ’90s (visit all of our ’90s week featured arts & crafts here!) and has been celebrating recognition & creating jaw-dropping colorful squares ever since.

A fun and simple artist-inspired color exercise for kids using scrap paper squares and a grid! | via barley & birch
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One look at his paintings will give you a good idea of why his work so easily translates into a wonderful color exploration exercise for kids. By repeating a simple shape, he is free to focus on the combinations of colors, allowing them to determine the direction of each piece.

For more color grid inspiration, see the work of Ellsworth Kelly or Ad Reinhardt.

To make your own color grid, you’ll need:

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • Scrap construction paper or card stock in a variety of colors
  • Scissors

Simple Color Exploration Grid Instructions:

  1. Make a simple 3×3 square grid on paper

    You can download our free grid template, or make your own by creating a simple 3×3 square grid with a ruler and construction or copy paper.

    A fun and simple artist-inspired color exercise for kids using scrap paper squares and a grid! | via barley & birch
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  2. Cut colorful squares and strips from scrap paper

    Using colorful pieces of scrap paper, cut out multiple squares to fit your grid pieces. 

    A fun and simple artist-inspired color exercise for kids using scrap paper squares and a grid! | via barley & birch
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  3. Create layered compositions!

    The simple, multi-colored grid squares can be arranged and rearranged over and over again – helping kids explore color and composition.

    A fun and simple artist-inspired color exercise for kids using scrap paper squares and a grid! | via barley & birch
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This is a wonderfully quiet activity for a station or table and also great for art class early finishers!  You can laminate the grid and colorful pieces and put the set in a basket to reuse the same grid/s over and over.

A fun and simple artist-inspired color exercise for kids using scrap paper squares and a grid! | via barley & birch
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There are so many ways you could use his beautiful work as inspiration for art projects for all ages…

  • Create color rules (for example, use a monochromatic palette or only cool colors)
  • Swap out the colorful paper squares in our project for oil pastels for a whole new medium experience!

If this simple combination of scrap paper and simple shapes has your heart a-flutter, be sure to check out one of my very favorite spontaneous art exercises – these incredible quick collages! You might also like our scrap stamp shape collages, modern geometric cardboard necklaces, or torn paper landscape art.

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About Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.

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