Monthly Archives: January 2011

Tape Resist

(Inspired by this article at Rhythm of the Home Magazine.)

(Our) Materials: canvases, painter’s tape, liquid acrylic paints–the kind that come in those little bottles at the craft stores, so they were thin enough as is. I find masking tape tends to be a little stickier than you’d think, and it can leave residue. I don’t know if it would do that on canvas or not, but we used painter’s tape, found in the paint aisle at any hardware/home improvement store, instead. It’s designed to peel off easily.

I was really excited to try this project. I forgot to buy a canvas for myself, though. (Bummer!) I explained the process to the kids, set them up with a roll of tape and their canvases, and pretty much got met with looks that mirrored the blank canvases they faced. Both boys were a little paralyzed at first. I did set one ground rule: this was to be abstract, and we talked about the difference between representational and abstract. I told them they couldn’t use the tape to draw a face or a house or text. Just lay it on there and see what happened. “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I asked them. “Play around with it. No worries. The canvases weren’t expensive, and we can always do this again.”

(As an aside, while I was working on this draft, this post about making mistakes came up over on Kidoinfo. My toddler doesn’t worry about making mistakes–she just does. With my older kids, I try to encourage the idea that as we experiment in the studio, there’s no such thing as a mistake.)

Still, they hesitated. So I gave our resident tape expert some tape, and she set to.That freed up the boys, and they began.

I’m not sure if my nine-year-old had a plan when he began taping, but by the time he began painting, he obviously did. I was so impressed by his finished piece, because it showed evidence of this plan. Remember, he is more precise and thoughtful at the outset; it really shows here. (I’ve combined the photos of the canvases with tape, paint, and then tape removed so you can see the progression all in a row.)

And here is my six-year-old’s canvas. I really enjoy the way he uses color–he is adventurous. Both boys, actually, show here that they aren’t afraid of using color in different combinations. (Perhaps they are influenced by the orange walls and purple trim of the art studio? Their mother isn’t afraid of color, either!)

And finally, G. She led the way with the tape, but she absolutely refused to cover the entire canvas with paint. Okay by me–who’s going to argue with a two-year-old? I don’t have a photo of her canvas with just tape on it, except for the first shot above. Here it is with paint and then with tape removed.

Right now these are all hanging in the playroom (hanging hardware was less than a dollar for three, in the general hardware aisle at Home Depot). They look so great!

We’re not done with tape yet. Who knew tape could be so inspiring? What seemingly mundane item is inspiring you lately?

Tape Play

Kids like tape. I knew this already–when my boys were younger, they’d spend what seemed like hours with rolls of clear tape, often taping things to the walls with miles of the stuff. My daughter likes tape, too. I’m not sure why I never thought to provide colored painter’s and masking tape for my boys, but as in so many other areas, my daughter is reaping the benefits of being the third child.

While I was setting up for sponge painting not too long ago, I asked G if she’d like to continue, while she waited, on a drawing she’d started earlier with oil pastels. The blue painter’s tape was sitting on the art table, and she asked to use that.

For this, I tore off pieces of tape for her and put them on the edge of the table. She then taped them to the paper herself.

Santa brought G a set of colored tape, and given the choice of black or white paper, she chose black. (Love that black paper!)

She wanted to tear this tape herself. It’s thinner than the roll of painter’s tape–the set of colors only came in 1/2″ thickness, not the full inch–and this makes it a little harder to work with for small fingers. G would pull off a long strip of tape and then ask me to rip it for her. You can see that this tape behaves differently–it twists and curls much more readily, which is, of course, interesting in itself as well.

I think we’ll be sharing this activity with the big kids, too. My six-year-old still enjoys sticking stickers onto a blank sheet of paper and filling in the scene with colored pencils. There is something about sticking things onto other things–it’s so appealing. We’re not done with tape, not by a long shot!


For some really amazing and inspiring photos of art created with tape, go here. It’s worth clicking on all those links under the “Tape Drawing” tab, and the “Community, Art, and Education” tab has lesson plans along with photos of the results. I think I’ll follow the suggestion not to show these to my boys until after we attempt some tape art of our own.

Happy 2011!

Notes: Until I corrected him, my oldest called them “New Year’s Revolutions” instead of “Resolutions,” but I think Revolutions might just be a better term anyway. And Miss Rumphius is tasked to make the world a more beautiful place. If you’re unfamiliar with the book, buy or borrow a copy and read it to your favorite small person.

Happy New Year, and good luck with all your revolutions!