To celebrate the arrival of summer, the Dumpling and I created an art series featuring a few of our favorite summer fruits! We experimented with a different technique for each—from making paper mosaics to coloring with makeup to stamping prints out of various household materials. While we did the activities side-by-side (with me adding the finishing touches), the dissimilarities in our work are quite telling of how differently we approach each task!
1. Paper Cutout Watermelon
- Print the watermelon template.*
- Cut, assemble, and glue.
Although this was a straightforward activity, working with my two and a half year old brought an interesting twist because her imagination isn’t yet fully bound by how a watermelon (or anything really) is supposed to look like. As a result, our compositions were as literal or abstract as we wanted it to be.
2. Paper Mosaic Pineapple
- Print the pineapple template.*
- Cut yellow and green colored paper into approximately quarter inch tiles. Optional: Use different shades of the same color to create contrast.
- Glue or tape colored the pieces on. (I used double sided tape.)
This was a perfect example of how the Dumpling and I diverge in interpreting directions—of me giving them and of her following. Instead of placing the pieces one-by-one, she just dumped everything on. It didn’t create the pixelated effect I was aiming for, but she did complete the activity…and it does look like a pineapple.
3. Thumb Print Strawberries
- Apply lipstick (paint or stamp ink would work as well) on your thumbs and stamp to create heart-shaped prints.
- Outline the prints with a mixture of rounded triangles and hearts.
- Add leaves and speckles for seeds.
4. Wine (or Juice) Stained Grapes
- Download the grape template* and color each grape with blue, red, and/or purple watercolor pencils.
- Blend colored grapes with a brush using red wine or juice (instead of water).
- Drip red wine or grape juice onto the drawing for added effect. If you don’t have a dropper, soak a cotton ball and squeeze the liquid out onto the paper.
(This was a solo activity because I was that possessive of my wine…and I didn’t have grape juice.)
5. Bottle Cap Stamp Cherries
- Apply red paint on water a bottle cap and stamp.
- Add stems and leaves on the berries after the paint dries.
Midway through our fruit series, I realized that I’m learning from the Dumpling as much as she’s learning from me. While I was carefully laying the cap on my sheet of paper in attempt to create perfect circles, the Dumpling just slathered a ton of paint on and stamped away. She used both ends of the bottle cap, creating a combination of outlined and colored-in circles—it was something that I didn’t think of until she showed me!
6. Pom Pom Smash Blueberries
- Soak pom poms into blue and purple paint and smash them with a toy hammer. To limit the splash radius, cover the pom poms with clear plastic wrap.
- Draw star on the berries to from the calyx once the paint dries.
7. Bubble Wrap Print Raspberries
- Cut a piece of bubble wrap into an oval-ish shape and glue onto a large beverage cap.
- Apply pink and/or red paint onto the bubble wrap and stamp.
- Draw circles to form drupes once the paint dries.
Like the cherry bottle cap printing exercise, the Dumpling’s unstudied approach uncovered another technique that didn’t occur to me. She just stamped and re-stamped over and over again—often on the same spot, which gave her raspberries a layered effect!
This project taught me that I should act more like a kid sometimes. I tend to over-think, over-plan, and over-analyze…while my toddler just does it. She keeps trying and experimenting until she runs out of paper or paint, whichever comes first. While my artwork often turned out as expected, the Dumpling’s carefree method often led to serendipitous effects. In the end, it was my toddler who taught me a thing or two!
* The printables look differently than my photos because my fruits were all initially free drawn; the templates were created after.