Friday, 6 January 2012

Art ideas for older children

Pastels and pencils
Pastels and pencils
I have been thinking lately about inspirational art resources for older children - nearly-teens and teenagers.  Both C (who is now 12) and O, (9) love art, but in very different ways.  I want to find some more art books to inspire them and keep this love of drawing and painting going. 

C's love of art is relatively recent - spurred on by taking some Warhammer painting lessons, and the more serious-minded approach to art, which suits him very much, at his new secondary school.  His favourite thing to use are Caran D'Ache Aquarelle pencils.  At the moment he mainly draws cartoons - usually inspired by Asterix or Calvin and Hobbes.

Cam's drawing cartoons

Cam's Caran D'Ache pencils

O's love of art has always been with her, and is much more eclectic.  She constantly draws, paints, cuts and sticks - anything she can think of.  She will use pastels, paints, pens, pencils, glue, ink...whatever she can get her hands on.  Anything goes with her.  After a summer of making magazines, at the moment she is making posters and experimenting with some lovely watercolour paints she got for Christmas.

We do have a number of books already, which are much used and loved.  For years the Usborne Art Ideas range has kept O busy with ideas, but they are starting to seem a little young; she doesn't want to draw princesses or teddy bears any more.  Some of the Usborne range is still going strong though.  These 50 art ideas cards are excellent - the projects are all straightforward and well explained.  O can do them by herself (very important for her), and the pictures are generally things she wants to draw; animal pictures feature heavily.

Usborne idea cards
Usborne art cards - we love these

However, there isn't anything in the Usborne range for teenagers.  I wish there was - the quality of their books is wonderful, and it feels as though my children have grown up with them.

Other books that still inspire and are used regularly are the Ed Emberley books, an excellent bubble writing book, and a few Klutz art books.

Ed Emberley

Bubble Writer

Klutz paper fashions

A recent, and absolutely excellent, addition to our shelves is the Kids Crafternoon - Papercraft book.   O received it for Christmas, and got stuck in right away.  She particularly loves that there is an envelope of full sized templates inside the front cover (something that I always love with sewing books too).

Kids Crafternoon - papercraft
Kids Crafternoon - a wonderful book for older children

There are some good Manga books out there to inspire older children.  A friend recommended this one, which her 10 year old daughter loves and has been making fantastic pictures with.  This one looks very good too.  I think I am going to get one and see which of my children (or both, maybe?) it appeals to.  Do you have any manga books that you would recommend?

What other art books do your older children love?  Are there any drawing or painting books that keep teenagers inspired?  I am after ideas, so all recommendations are very welcome indeed!

Manequin in a brushed cotton ensemble
O's desk - with pens and a mannequin in a brushed cotton outfit


  1. I found your blog after someone re-tweeted your plea for art books for older children!
    My girls are now 14 and 17 - they've both loved doing arty and crafty things with me as they grew up, I'm so lucky.
    It's harder now - what with exams and teen friends to be with, we don't all craft so much together.
    I have an idea to start some arty/crafty workshops for teens this year, nothing fancy just a drop in and craft thing - that's why I was curious about your tweet.

    Lovely to have discovered your blog Nancy! I too exist on coffee and cake - it's even in my email address.

  2. Hello x all 4 of ours love drawing etc & they have a set of Caran D'Ache pencils that were my Dads that they use all the time. R has a book called You Can Draw that we got in a book shop called The Works for about £8 it's probably a little bit old for him, TBH but he has a go & the girls like it. They also do a girly version in store but couldn't find it on Amazon but it's all fairies & mermaids but not babyish ones. Think O would love it & I'm sure C would like the one R has.

    Also my girls like The Fashion Angels range. So many titles can imagine O liking them. M got one called Dream wedding designer for Christmas!

    Hope that helps x

  3. Thanks for these recommendations. My youngest, Fabien (going on 12) has always loved drawing and whilst he has no particular talent I want to encourage him to keep going.

    I keep him supplied with all the sketch pads and pencils and things he needs but he's at the age where fresh inspiration is welcome. He loves doing cartoons - I must introduce him to Calvin and Hobbes. He'll love that.

  4. another calvin and hobbes fan here! also captain underpants for cartoon inspiration and more recently diary of a wimpy kid figures. Miss K meanwhile draws penguins, nothing else....

  5. I saw a great book (link below) in an art gallery recently - I have plans for it. I do agree - there are so many ideas out there for younger children; all the children's art websites I used to read have been outgrown now.

    We have some Klutz books, including the fashion one, though I find it very fiddly; also I get a bit tetchy about the whole gender specific aspect of it. Mr Coffee is much better at working without templates or books.

  6. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain really inspired me when I was 12 or so. I loved learning how to draw what I see and I still use its techniques many years later. I believe there is a new edition out too!

  7. Just saw this book on called Art Lab for Kids by Susan Schwake due out in March. I think it looks really good and would like it myself! It contains printmaking and mixed media as well as drawing and painting. Hope this helps!

  8. My elder daughter has been after that bubble writing book, and I am a big fan of Ed Emberley - thanks Nancy, I really enjoyed this post, and you've given me some ideas!

  9. What a wonderful post Nancy. I appreciate the time you took to put this list together. I shall be referring back to it for ideas for my girls. I wish I could add to it but you've included our favorites already.

  10. I've been thinking about this for a few days, and had a look through my shelves to see if there was anything I could recommend, and there are a few books that I think would help to introduce some wider concepts.
    Published in the 1990s, they are available used via Amazon. EYEWITNESS ART and EYEWITNESS GUIDES, they cover subjects like watercolour, sculpture, costume, perspective and colour. 64 pages long, many of them are only £0.01 used!
    I've not seen this one myself, but the Costume book says it is aimed at age 9 and over, so might be a place to start, and you could see what you think?

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Sorry I'm late reading this post - but it's such a good one! Fred is particularly keen on art at the moment - especially as his teacher this year is very arty and runs a sketch club which is the highlight of his week. He has always been quite good at copying pictures - I remember when he was tiny and Daisy was first writing with some drawings and he did really good imitations because to him it was just shapes and patterns. We have lots of Manga books which all three children have loved - and they are great for making t-shirt appliques! Ours are mostly from the Xtreme art range by Christopher Hart who wrote one of the others that you mention. I've just edited this comment as I had included a link to an amazon page that had loads of other Xtreme interests further down! ;o)
    I have never heard of Ed Emberley before but think I might buy Fred one of his books as I am always keen to encourage any creative interests! Thanks again for a great post. Lucy xx


Even though I often do not have the time to reply to everybody, I really appreciate all your comments so much - thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts on what I've written.