Lions are a popular animal with preschool kids, and one Art Club child had been asking me every week for a lion project! I’d been mulling over the idea of trying out lots of different painting techniques in one picture, to create different textural effects, so I thought a lion might be the perfect subject matter for this project.
After studying some beautiful photographs of lions, each child sketched their lion’s face, mane and body. I wanted the lions to be quite large and bold, but experience has taught me that many children find it hard to scale up their drawings when faced with paper larger than A4. Therefore I gave them a helping hand by providing a simple template for the lion’s face shape – a sort of elongated hexagon – to encourage them to draw ‘big’ and fill the paper, as well as providing a starting point for the less confident artists.
Next they started to build up their paint layers and textures, starting with the sky which was painted using little sponges to ‘wipe’ watery blue paint onto the paper (if we hadn’t run out of time we would have added even more texture by using cotton wool or dry sponges to dab on fluffy white clouds once the blue was dry). Then the kids painted a base layer of yellow to the lion’s face, mane and body, using conventional paint brushes. They added texture with a ‘stippled’ effect created by using the rough side of a washing-up sponge – the sponge was blotted on a paper towel first, to get rid of any excess paint, and then dabbed over the yellow base colour to make a fur texture.
The mane was painted in extra thick, gloopy, brown paint (thickened with flour) and then the kids used the ends of their paintbrushes to scrape away the paint and reveal the yellow colour below.
Next, the grass was painted using the edge of cardboard dipped in green paint and then pressed onto the paper. Finally the details of the orange eyes and the lion’s black nose were added using a very fine brush.
I love the results – and the kids were incredibly proud of their wonderful paintings!