Art with Kids {Andrew Wyeth}

So…maybe this will become a little series. I’ve never been good with blog series or themes, but we’ll pretend this is a series until it ends. This week we studied Andrew Wyeth. Before I introduce an artist to the kids I do a little studying on my own and brainstorming how we can incorporate something about that artist into a project. I also do a little pre-screening of art, since not all is age appropriate for my kids.


For our study on Andrew Wyeth, I decided we would make egg tempera paint. Our version is a make-shift version using what I had on hand. I wanted them to get the gist of the process of making the paint, but I was not concerned about it being totally authentic.

Egg tempera paint was made with egg, water and powdered pigments. This project would be SO MUCH easier if we used liquid color (food coloring, liquid watercolors, etc.). However, I wanted to kids to think about how hard it was to actually get powered pigments – lots of grinding of various substances had to take place!

We used water color tablets (popped them out of a water color set) and then I had the kids try to grind them…with the top of a bed post I found in the garage. I was using what I had on hand. Grinding works best with non-porous surfaces…and something rounded. Our paint plate and metal bed post top worked great.

2.15wyeth-012.15wyeth-022.15wyeth-03Next the kids separated the egg white and yolk.2.15wyeth-04We read that artists would gently roll the egg yolk on a towel to dry it and then pierce the yolk to allow the inside to pour out. The kids thought these steps were especially fun!2.15wyeth-052.15wyeth-062.15wyeth-072.15wyeth-082.15wyeth-09Next, we mixed the powder, yolk and water. Some of the colors worked better than others.2.15wyeth-10My eight year old was not thrilled with the consistency of the paint. It provided a great opportunity to talk about the challenges artists faced in the days that Hobby Lobby wasn’t around the corner!2.15wyeth-122.15wyeth-132.15wyeth-14We don’t do art projects every day, but I do try to study one artist in depth once a week. I miss art class. A lot. I may not be in a season where I am creating much physical art, but I am in a season where I can come along side my kids as they create. Busy hands also mean they sit relatively still and it provides a perfect time for us to listen to books, memory work or just good music. I try to keep their projects on 8.5×11 paper and then place them in plastic sleeves in a binder.

“One’s art goes as far as deep as one’s love goes.”

~ Andrew Wyeth

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  • Dawn - I am so glad you’re doing this “series”. I teach elementary school (part time as a reading and math interventionist). The school is having an Arts Day soon which I am SO excited about! I volunteered to lead a session so I’m trying to gather some ideas. I love that our (public) school is spending an entire day on the arts! (Very refreshing when we have been too focused on technology this year) So, thanks for the inspiration in these posts. Still pinching myself about coming to Washington too!

  • kassondra - Silly question but are those new paint trays? We paint a lot and my paint trays never come clean. I don’t mind because the old paint is dry and doesn’t change the color of the new paint. But your’s are bright white! What’s your secret?

  • Sandy C - That’s great, thank you for sharing this paint making process. What a wonderful art lesson. Also, you’re series on OK travel destinations is fantastic and our family has referenced them for local vacation ideas 🙂

  • Lynet Witty - Ashley, this is incredible that you would do this the hard way for all your children. I especially love that you mentioned how one of your sons was disappointed in the consistency — because i would have been too. I am SO grateful for Hobby Lobby today.
    This inspires me to do something with my 4 year old–we love to paint.

  • Lakmali - Such a nice idea!!!!!!

  • Emily - Beautiful and inspiring post. Thank you for sharing this. It reminded me that art can create peaceful moments among even the most busy and crazy days. I will be looking for more ways to integrate art projects back into my life!

  • Rebekah - Thanks so much for sharing! As a person who is not artistic, it is great to get some great ideas on how I can encourage art with my kids! We do artist/pictures studies but I am not very good at coming up with hands on ways to learn about artists.

  • Jenni - I was just introduced to this artist via a song my friend wrote. It’s inspired by the girl and the abandoned house painting ( not sure it’s technical name). A woman haunted by her past is the idea.

  • Tina - Love the comment about overcoming challenges when Hobby Lobby is not right around the corner! Thank you for making me smile. 🙂

  • Abigail Bennett - Have you heard of the youtube series “The Art Assignment”? It’s hosted by PBS and each week they interview a contemporary artist and get an “assignment” that’s based on the style of the artist. I don’t know how much it’s geared towards younger kids, but I bet you could adapt it to fit.

  • Sarah - Yes! Would love to see more of this 🙂 Love all the creative things you do with your kiddos and am very inspired by these art posts!

  • Kelsey - As an art teacher, I’m so jealous of all the art you get to do with your kids. I wish I had small enough groups to do fun stuff like this! And I think it’s great that you spend so much time with them making and studying art. I was homeschooled growing up my mom didn’t do stuff like this with us. Although to be fair, this was plenty of years ago when art education wasn’t as widespread. But I’m still really looking forward to doing stuff like this when I (hopefully) get to homeschool my own kids someday!

  • Johanna - I love seeing your home-school art studies… what a true gift you are giving to your children (in so many ways).
    As a former art teacher and BFA student (and a creative type), I just love seeing children learn about art in a tangible way.
    Today’s world is so fast paced and full of technology, but to slow down and learn hands on processes, it is such a skill and important lesson to learn. Problem solving, creative thinking… so may wonderful things!
    Bravo Mama!
    – Johanna

  • colleen from alabama - This is awesome… Did you pick up an extra child?

  • Valerie - Ashley, I don’t comment very often, but I have kept up with your blog for several years because you inspire me both as a Mom and a wanna-be photographer. I really like seeing the art that you do with your kids. I really want to instill a love of creating in my boys, so I really enjoy getting ideas from you. Thanks for all the sharing that you do with us.

  • elizabeth H - I’m {THRILLED} that you’re doing this series!!
    It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for w/my Little’s.
    I’m pinning ALL of them!

  • Lisa - I loved reading this post and seeing the process you went through with your kids. It’s inspiring. My kids are still pretty little but we try to do projects together often. It’s great to get ideas and a vision for the future.

  • Anna - Oh wow! We just made egg tempera paint last week, too. We studied Giotto, and egg tempera was the art activity. We crushed pastels for our pigment using the mortar and pestle from the kitchen, and the kids loved it. I thought the dried texture of the paint was really interesting, how it stayed glossy after dry. Pretty cool!

  • Eliz - How dd you get that last picture?

  • Jenny B. - It’s so great that you are sharing your passions with your kids, and you are obviously a teacher at heart. 🙂

  • audrielle - this is so creative, such an awesome idea!
    Whodah thunk it! haha

  • Jessica - So, we also do CC (this is our second year). And I have never expanded on the artists we’ve learned about at home until Andrew Wyethe. I found a thick autobiography at the library and skimmed it (mistake). My oldest son loves art and as soon as we got home he sat down and flipped through every page. Later that evening my husband was looking through the book with my son and he says, “Honey, did you know Wyethe painted pictures of people naked? Like, full male genitalia naked?” Oops.

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - I loved studying Wyeth. His work is so raw and real. Did your naturalist enjoy O’Keefe? Her work with bones has always fascinated me.

  • Becki - Are you doing Classical Conversations? I ask because of the artists you are studying; it can’t be a coincidence that they are the same ones we are studying this year, lol! Thanks for such a great idea; even if you aren’t in CC, Andrew Wyeth is the one we are studying next week and I’m totally going to use this at home. We actually do the art project in our class and then are supposed to practice it at home, and this will be a great way to do our home activity. Thanks!

  • Ruth - I am always encouraged when i see you teaching all of your kids together. I am sure they all benefit from the experience uniquely, and yet all get to participate. I am just starting the home schooling journey with my five-year-old but hope to continue with my younger kids and posts like these give me ideas and encouragement that it is possible! Thank you!