Kids art projects: DIY paintbrushes

DIY paintbrushes you can make at home!

Have you ever tried creating your own art tools? It is a fun art activity to do. Many artists including Gerhard Richter, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning are famous for making their own tools for painting!

This post shares how you, and your kids, can make your own paintbrushes using pegs and other items from around the house. This activity is great as it allows kids to experiment with different designs, surfaces and textures so there are lots of opportunities for creativity and problem-solving.

Age range: 18 months +

Preparation time: 10 minutes

What you need

  • Large clothespins/pegs
  • Scissors
  • Paint (homemade edible paint is a great option for babies and toddlers)
  • Paper
  • Household materials such as cotton pads, dishcloth, paper towel, tissue paper, bubblewrap, aluminum foil, leaves, ribbons, string, feathers, flowers and pom-poms.
Tools and materials needed to make your own paintbrushes at home

Making your DIY paintbrushes

  • Step One: Collect your household materials and cut them into small enough pieces so they can be clipped onto the pegs/clothespins. Get kids to help with collecting and trying out different materials! Any ribbon or twine can tied up into a small bundle before being clipped.
  • Step Two: Prepare your paper and paint and lay the paintbrushes out.
  • Step Three: Invite kids to start experimenting with the paint, paintbrushes and paper. Try not to give them any directions on what they should make or do. If they are hesitant at first, try sitting down and doing your own painting beside them.

Taking children’s learning further

To extend children’s creative thinking further, you could try some of the suggestions below. These will obviously need to be adapted to your child’s age, interest and abilities:

  • Introducing new vocabulary words like: smooth, coverage, texture and consistency.
  • Asking questions such as: What do you notice about the different brushes? Which paintbrush spread the paint best? Are there any other materials around the house we could use to make a paintbrush?
  • Demonstrating new artistic techniques like how to hold the paintbrush in different ways and how to make patterns by stamping the brushes.
DIY paintbrushes are a great kid's art activity

Hot tips

If you don’t have any clothespins or pegs, you can use sticks and twigs as a substitute. Masking tape can then be used to stick the head of the brush to the stick.

About DIY paintbrushes

Homemade paintbrushes are a great way to encourage children’s creativity. By selecting and testing different materials, kids can learn about concepts such as coverage, consistency and texture. They can also solve problems as they experiment with the materials. For example, how to make a paintbrush that spreads the paint the fastest.

Babies and toddlers can also develop important fine motor-skills such as how to hold an item in their hand and coordinate their movement to spread the paint. Finally, homemade paintbrushes are great because they encourage kids to use their imagination and to see different uses for every day items like paper towel, sponges and ribbons.

Gerhard Richter using one of his custom-made tools to create an abstract painting. Image credit: Gerhard Richter Painting

Many different artists have developed paint techniques that do not involve a traditional paintbrush. For example, Gerhard Richter is famous for making his own paint tools including giant paint scrapers – like you can see pictured above. This video features the artist experimenting with these tools in his art studio.

Please let me know if you give DIY paintbrushes a go! And if you upload any pics to Instagram, make sure you add the hashtag #artplaychildrenlearning so I can cheer you on. 

Happy making!

Louisa x

Further Links

9 Alternative Painting Techniques: A great article on how different modern artists have painted without paintbrushes. For example by pouring, dripping and doing body prints!

This online resource put together by the Royal Academy of Art in London gives a great step-by-step guide for making your own paintbrushes using sticks and items from your garden.

7 Innovative Painting Techniques That Don’t Require a Paintbrush

STEAM Challenge For Kids: Make DIY Paint Brushes by Babbledabbledo

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