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Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. Pablo Picasso at DailyLearners.com

Creativity with a Coloring Book Project

Dean in a Bi-Plane

Dean in a Bi-Plane

My grandchildren are very important to me. I want to stay close to them and be a part of their lives even though I am thousands of miles away. I wrote an article back in March titled, Creative Connection with Grandchildren.  In that article, I listed six ways to stay connected in a fun and creative way.

Well, I have a new activity to add.  This activity evolved as my husband, Butch, and I were babysitting his daughter’s three children.  The kids wanted to color, but we did not have any coloring books. Butch got some computer paper and started drawing things for the kids to color.  He drew with a black marker.

The kids loved it. I got into the action and pretty soon we were drawing beach scenes, Christmas trees, candy canes, turtles, etc.  Some of the drawings they liked so much, we scanned and made copies for them. So, the makeshift coloring pages were a hit!  The kids even wanted to draw with the black marker to make their own coloring pages. The three year old twins were a little young to let loose with markers. We did not have the washable type. If we had, then we would have allowed them to get with it.

Family Drawing - dark area at top is the sketchbook handle.

Family Sketch - dark area in center top is sketchbook handle.

Because of this experience with the kids, Butch and I decided to buy the really large floor sketchbooks as Christmas presents for the three.  We also got them a collection of stencils for coloring. I jokingly said that I bet the kids would like it if we made some drawings with marker on these large pages.

Well, that started the ball rolling.  Instead of drawing by hand, Butch had the idea of getting a projector that would project whatever image we wanted on the wall. We then could easily enlarge our drawings.  We found a fairly cheap art projector, took it home and got busy.

Butch found free clip art of cartoon characters on the internet. He traced the cartoon characters and then placed the face of a grandchild on the artwork. The drawings turned out really cute! Soon there were sketches of Dean flying a bi-plane, Hailey dancing the hula, and Ava standing on the beach wearing a horse inner tube.

We even started looking for family photographs that could be edited and traced for the kids to color. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to convert the pictures to black and white. Then I put them through the photocopy filter.  Changing the picture in that way simplified the image and made it more of an outline that could be traced.

Hula Hailey

Hula Hailey

The images were traced first with a pencil and then a marker. Through trial and error, we found that the marker would go through the back of the paper and mess up the next sheet in the book.  In order to stop that from happening we placed a sheet of paper under the one we were tracing as protection.

The hardest part of the exercise was finding good photographs of the grandchildren.  Holding the large sketchbook up against the wall while drawing on it was difficult also. But, we only did 4 drawings for each of the grandchildren.  The rest of the paper in the sketchbooks was left blank. The kids will have to get creative themselves with those pages.

Since doing this project I have decided that I want to do it in a smaller way for my three youngest grandsons.  I think I will make drawings on computer paper and put the books together with string or brads. The coloring pages may end up being drawings of each of their family members. It could be done pretty quickly on the computer, or I could trace using the projector.

Another idea is to teach the older grandchildren to do this project for their younger siblings. I am not big on coloring books, but this idea is a little different. Of course, in any coloring book I make, I would leave blank pages to encourage each child’s creativity.

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