Painting Nature with Kids

 Painting Nature With KidsI think most kids are naturally attuned to nature, don’t you? Pebble (4.5 years old) is always commenting on the changes in the garden and the weather, she’ll  always notice these things before me, I’ve got my head too lost in the jobs that need doing and my grown up world. Rocky (18 months) chases butterflies and magpies, he stops and pushes his face right up close to new blooms and lost bird feathers, he crunches seed pods in his little fists and brings me rock, after rock, after rock to examine with him.

One day Pebble asked if she could paint, as she often does, so I suggested that we paint outside, and paint what we see in the garden. I set up her table and chair next to the lemon tree, popped the water colour paints and some paper on the table and left her to it. She sat quietly engrossed in her creation for quite some time, chattering to herself about her picture and what she could see.

 Painting Nature With Kids Painting Nature With Kids

This made a nice change from painting the pictures from her head and gave her something real to focus on, details to appreciate. She was so proud of the painting that she created, it clearly meant a lot to her. Her art work has taken pride of place on the wall in my office nook ever since.

Rocky is just starting to join in with painting and prefers the gooey, slippery, splashy poster paints, which I’ll admit we don’t get to use quite so often. He got stuck into them at a gathering with friends over the weekend and it reminded me that I need to get these out more regularly.

Here are some suggestions for painting nature with kids:


  • the whole putting the paint brush in the pot or on the colour is a big ask for little hands, this can be the most interesting part to a toddler at first. Be patient and prepared for mess. Wear old clothes and embrace it when they drop the paint brush and stick their fingers in instead.
  • toddlers may make marks on the page that look like a smudge to us, but to them it represents meaning. Listen to their words and watch their gestures to find out what the painting means to them.
  • play with making patterns, mixing colours and filling up space, this is all new to toddlers.
  • use seed pods, leaves and flowers instead of paint brushes, to create interesting textures.
  • water painting is an old favourite for toddlers, just grab a bucket full of water and a paintbrush and let them go for it.

 Painting Nature With Kids

Older Kids:

  • children sometimes get stuck and frustrated with painting particular objects. They have a clear idea in mind but don’t know where to start. Try breaking it down into steps. Which step will you start with? The grass, or the tree trunk or the lemons? If they’re painting from memory or imagination try looking at a real example, a toy or a picture.
  • if children can’t decide what to paint, suggest that they try out the colours and see what they can do and offer a fresh piece of paper if and when they want one. Often the fear of making a mistake stops children from enjoying painting, or other art forms. Paint alongside your kids, show them that it’s ok to make mistakes.
  • try focusing on small details in nature, look closely at one particular flower, focus on the bees buzzing on new blossums or the bare branches of a tree in winter.
  • take water colours to the park. We have a gorgeous rose garden near our house that would be perfect for this. Choose a sunny day that’s not too windy and use rocks to weigh the corners of the paper down while painting and allowing to dry. Take a folder or bag to carry the art works home in later.

 Painting Nature With Kids

Do your kids love painting? Have they ever tried painting nature?

20 Replies to “Painting Nature with Kids”

  1. I’ve been trying to have nature art days with my toddler and preschooler the past couple weeks. So far we’ve used markers, colored pencils, and oil pastels, but I’m going to have to get more ambitious and try paints or at least watercolors. I tell them to draw what they see and the 4.5 year old does really well (rock, lake, bug, tree, grass, etc.) However, the 2.5 year old frequently goes off on tangents. First she’ll draw a bird, so she starts off okay, but then next a spaceship, then a princess, etc. (They’re all actually scribbles.) We’ve only done it three days so far, but I’m hoping to keep their pictures in an album to show their progress as they get older.

    1. That sounds like a lovely idea. I think you can only lead a child in a certain direction but when they have their own ideas they just do what they want to do. Nothing wrong with that when they’re being creative and imaginative :) I love the idea of a progress album.

  2. My girls both love to paint! We also love our ikea watercolours! I can’t resist buying a new set each time I go!
    I love Pebble’s lemon tree – and thanks for the inspiration – I think we’ll take our paints outside tomorrow now this glorious sunshine has begun to shine through!

    1. I’ve been eyeing off some of the Micador watercolours I’ve seen others using on IG and in blog posts, they look awesome, they may replace my Ikea set next time I run out. Which will be soon! We have two sets of Ikea paints at the moment, for when Pebble paints with friends. We’ll have to make it three once Rocky get’s the hang of them :)

  3. Awww what a lovely painting! I love the lemon tree. My girls both love painting, we don’t do it enough outside so Ill have to give this a go. Cherub still experiments with her paints and brushes, whereas Popette is our little artist. Today she painted me a spring picture of flowers and leaves blowing in the wind. Its always lovely seeing what she comes up with. :)

  4. What an amazing lemon tree you have! It looks so good :-) We must get outside and do some painting, although we are pulling apart our backyard at the moment to start again almost, but the kids can still be inspired.

  5. Some lovely ideas with waterpaint and nature Kylie! You know we love our outdoors but I haven’t initiated any nature painting for a while so thank you for the inspiration x And we have the some I picked up from Lincraft cheaply and they are the best we have used I have to say ;)

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