A Box of 64 Colors, Intuitive Painting and How to Paint Like a Child

A guest post by Sue Pelletier

In real life I am an art teacher for grades Kindergarten through fifth grade. Any one who knows my work or has taken a class with me knows I am hugely inspired by my student’s artwork. I believe children’s artwork is magical; they come into my art room giddy with excitement ready to paint, ink, print, sculpt and paint. Children are intuitive painters. They mix, they blend, they overlap colors all the while making decisions as an artist: “Where should I put this on my painting?”  “What will happen if I add another color here?”

intuitive painting

I begin each year in September by asking my kindergarteners to raise their hand if they are an artist. A few timid hands go up, then I give them my “everyone is an artist talk” and by the time they are leaving that first class, we are high-fiving each other and I am telling them, “you rock the art world!” Magic. The challenge as a teacher and an artist is to keep that magic alive with every one you teach. Kids or adults. The first day of school and the first few minutes of teaching adults is the same. Everyone comes into the room like a new box of 64 color Crayola crayons: each one unique and spirited (cornflower, burnt sienna, field green). As an art teacher you want to take each person, like a crayon and peel them back a bit, jumble them up a bit. (I love the crayons all new and shiny standing in their boxed rows, but I love them more, all jumbled up and worn down a bit) The quote by Picasso rings so true to what I believe.


“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Pablo Picasso

 intuitive painting

If you are an artist and stuck in any type of a creative block, trust me, paint with a child. When you are done painting with them, try to paint like them. Magic.

Capturing the style of an 8 year old when you paint.

1. Do not use a pencil to sketch first if you are painting. Just go for it.

2. If you are painting in a class with others, encourage each other. Children are naturals with this. All predisposed opinions of others are checked at the door in my art room.

3. Move around a bit as you work, maybe dance a little. Do not take yourself too seriously.

4. Breathe. In making art, the process is just as important as the product. Enjoy it. Embrace it.

5. Never underestimate the power of a black out line, either subtle (think a soft graphite pencil) or bold (think black acrylic or a bottle of squeeze fabric paint).

intuitive painting

Painting like a child may be harder than you think. You need to let go, be free and loose in your style and vibe.

Often I keep my images simple and childlike on purpose. If I were asked to create a painting in the Realistic genre, I would probably not sleep for a week. I would not be joyful with my painting.

These snippets of paintings were all created with out using a pencil. I just went for it. Using a bold black outline to get my images down on unprimed canvas. I then went in with bold acrylic color, using the colors I love and am always drawn to.

intuitive painting

They may not be the best paintings I have done, but I tackled each with a rawness and pureness that comes natural to children artists. They were happy to create and they make me happy to look at. Simple. A visual journal of what I was thinking and feeling at the time of the painting. Try to let go of your inhibition (usually not a problem for me, in fact sometimes I need to reel it in a bit!) and just paint!

So I am back to my real life job, carving out time to do my own art, and juggle life and the pursuit of happiness. These usually go hand in hand, and for that I am thankful and blessed.

Paint like a child.


Please visit Sue Pelletier at her blog at www.suepelletierlaughpaint.com where she banters about life and art, and has online classes encouraging RAW and LOOSE PAINTING. Find her on Facebook as Sue Pelletier Art.

Take a look at Sue’s previous posts here:

Living and Moving in Art (and Making Cement Cars)

Art and Paint, Layers and Life: Be Authentic

Color Outside the Lines

W8864_CM_AcrylTech_revised.inddYou might also enjoy Acrylic Techniques for Mixed Media by Roxanne Padgett.








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