Simple Modern Wood Painting for Kids

Little pieces of art made by my children are my most coveted treasures.  Making a modern wood painting is a simple creation for kiddos 3 and up.  The mid-century modern is my favourite design movement, and I was inspired by it's dedication to natural wood and simplified two tone drawings in designing this project.


You can find a plain, unfinished wooden painting surface at most art supply stores.  Give it a light sand with fine sandpaper to make it super smooth. 

Talk to your little artist about their vision.  We love the forest behind our house so Ry wanted to do trees for his Dad.  He also loves owls and I call him Squirrel Nutkin, so he wanted to incorporate and owl and a squirrel into his design. 

We just went for it.  I gave him a fresh Sharpie marker and he started drawing.  We took small breaks to talk about how things look and to make sure everything he added to his illustration was very intentional and thought out.  There is no erasing Sharpies easily from unprimed wood.

Once the Sharpie was well set we mixed up two washes of colour.  A muted green hue and a brown hue.


For wee ones try not to make the paint wash too watery or offer them too much at once.  It will spread quickly on the raw wood and bleed out of the lines.  It can also smear the Sharpie.  Both things happenned to ours but we didn't mind so much, but my older sons would have been disappointed.

Look at some art by Mid-Century Modern graphics artist like Charley Harper for inspiration.  It gave Ry the idea to add some simple patterns as the final finishing touches.


Let it dry till the paint completely absorbed and set.   Finish with a couple light coats of a clear, matte varnish to protect the painting and give it a nice patina.

Hang it and swoon for years to come, each time remembering the precious hour you spent with you little one watching them work in deep concentration.  A little piece of their imagination from that exact moment is what the painting will forever portray. 

Snap a photo of that proud little person holding up their masterpiece and paste it to the back with a little note if you like, one day you'll be glad you did.


Post by Kerry MacLeod :