New art prompts posted weekly!

Even though SLOMA’s youth art classes can’t meet in person, students of all ages can continue to explore and create visual arts at home with these free art prompts.

Materials for the weekly art projects are easy to find and inexpensive (you may already have the in your home!). If you do need to purchase materials, Art Central in San Luis Obispo is offering a special discount for SLOMA summer students: 10% off orders under $25 and 25% off orders over $25. Materials are available for curbside pickup at their location just off the intersection of Monterey Street and Johnson Avenue.

SLOMA’s weekly youth art activities are offered as a free service to our community impacted by the COVID outbreak. If you would like to support SLOMA’s education program, click here. Every donation makes a difference.



9 x 12 white paper
1” piece of unwrapped crayon
watercolor set
paint brush
water cup
paper towel

This art activity will be mixed media starting with crayon and adding colors and details. Let’s start by holding the crayon piece flat to create a silhouette of the person or animal that you will paint. Work from the head, down through body, arms, and legs. Remember, this is just a silhouette shape: no details!

Next paint the fun clothes that the figure is wearing. Put your imagination to work – a hat, tennis shoes, a sweatshirt or swim suit. Work from colorful shapes, and then add all the fanciful details (don’t forget the smile!).

Goal: Work in mixed media to create an original, fanciful person or animal painting.


paper 12 x 12 (or a similar size)
pencil, sharpie, or charcoal pencil

It’s surprising how complete a drawing can be made using only curved lines. Look at the photo of the frog mask above. Planning is important! Start by looking at the curved edges of the mask, then see the curved shapes that make up all the parts of the frog face. Trace with your fingers over all of the curves that make up this mask.

Now, artists, you are ready to begin to draw! Choose your drawing tool and work large. Take time to include all of the shapes, lines, and details that you observe and include in your curved line drawing.

Goal: To observe, prepare, and create a drawing using only curved lines.


paper or watercolor paper
watercolor set
thin paintbrush
water cup
paper towel
collected leaves from nature

You’ll be surprised at how many different types of leaves can be found near where you live. Leaves from trees in your neighborhood may be starting to change colors for the season. Some leaves will stay green all year long. Some leaves are big and broad while others are small with many segments. Take time to look for different types of leaves on the sidewalk and ground as well as growing on plants and trees.

Get started by collecting leaves of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Begin by painting the overall shape of a leaf with very thinned paint. Then add smaller areas of colors. Finish your painting by adding the fine details that you can see. A painting can be of a group of different leaves or of just one leaf.

Goal: to create realistic paintings in watercolor of leaves that you have collected.


a large container
something to put in the container – you decide; balls, fruit, popcorn?
paper 9 x 12 inches (printer paper ok)
crayons or colored pencils

Artists can look at a subject for their artwork from different angles. Find a container – a large bowl or bucket would work.

Let’s make three different crayon drawings of the container:

  • Set the container in front of you to view just the outside shape.

  • Set the container so you can see both the outside and part of what’s inside.

  • Set the container so you view it from the top to see the top edge and everything inside.

This is observational drawing. Where an artist sits or stands makes a difference in what he/she observes.

Goal: To create observational drawings each one from a different angle.


paint brush
water container
paper towels
paper 9 x 12 (or whatever you have on hand)

When you are outdoors, the “horizon” is how far away you can see. In art, the horizon line is where the land ends and the sky begins, or in a seascape, where the ocean ends and the sky begins.

The space in your picture depends on how high or low the horizon line is. If you can see a far distance, the horizon line is higher on the page. If you can see a shorter distance, the horizon line is lower on the page.

The beach is a fun place to do a quick watercolor painting inspired by the water and sand around you. Decide how far away or close you can see; then start at the top of the page and paint in the sky. What’s the weather like? Clouds? Wind? Warm sunlight?

At the horizon line the ocean begins. See if the ocean is calm or high surf, what does it look like today? Paint the movement of the water as it comes to the shore.

Outdoors in a park is also a good place to make a quick landscape watercolor painting. How far can you see? Decide where you will place the horizon line, now start painting the sky above it. As you travel down the page things become closer, like rocks, trees, streams, or paths.

Details in your painting will be smaller in the distance. Details become larger as they come closer. And toward the bottom part of the painting, shapes are most complete in their details.

Goal: To observe and paint a watercolor landscape or seascape based on the horizon line and space of what you see.


8.5 x 11 inch or 9 x 12 inch paper
clip board or piece of cardboard for sketching
glue or glue stick
contrasting papers, one piece each

Let’s go outside, either in your neighborhood or in a park, and do some sketching. Look at trees and find one with interesting shapes and sizes.  Sit down and do some pencil sketching. Take time to sketch several different trees, making quick sketches using lines.

Now we can make a collage! Lines can be made using crayons, markers, paint brushes, groups of rocks (and lots more, including torn paper!), so put your pencil away. Choose one of your tree sketches to develop into a collage using torn paper.

Take the contrasting piece of paper, what is the shape of the line for the tree trunk? Tear the shape of the tree trunk from your contrasting piece of paper.

How thick or thin are the tree branches? Tear some more pieces for the tree branches.  Tear groups of leaves to add to the collage.

Goal: Based on your tree sketch, create a torn paper collage with emphasis on both positive and negative spaces.


rocks found in nature
your imagination

We all know how to create lines using pencils, markers, crayons, or paint. But there’s more: artistic designs can be made using rocks found in nature.

Go outdoors and collect some rocks to arrange on dirt, grass, or on the sidewalk. Rocks can line up as straight lines, curved lines, and even zigzag lines. Start by lining the rocks up and moving them around. Make the positive space that the rocks take up as interesting and well balanced as the negative space left around them.

When you are pleased with your rock design, take a photo and send your artwork to SLOMA’s assistant curator, Courtney Davis, to be posted on SLOMA’s Instagram page.

Goal: to create a line design with rocks with good use of positive and negative space.


watercolor set
water cup
paper towel
9 x 12 inch paper (or close equivalent)
fruit or vegetables

Color can be used in your artwork in creative ways. Let’s get ready to paint a watercolor using only complimentary colors. Complementary means pairs of colors that are opposites on the color wheel. These pairs are red and green, yellow and purple, orange and blue.

Arrange three or four different pieces of fruit or vegetables out on a table. Oranges, apples, carrots or zucchini are all good choices. Sit across the table with your paper and supplies. What color is the natural color of each of the items? Think about what the complementary color is for each one and plan to paint one using only the complementary color. For example, if an object is shades of yellow in real life, you will paint it in shades of purple.

Ready to start painting? Work large shapes in the complementary color of each item.

And guess what: if you stare at your finished painting a long time and look away to a plain wall you might just see the shapes in the natural colors of your fruit/vegetables!

Goal: To paint using complementary colors with an emphasis on shapes.


any kind of paint, like tempera, acrylic, or watercolor
paper 12” x 24”
wax paper or tracing paper 12” x 24”
water cup
paper towel
color Sharpies or other markers

Scrolls are long pieces of art that can be rolled from end to end. Scrolls are used to tell a story over time. Scrolls are unrolled for viewing one section at a time.

Let’s make a scroll to tell what an animal, bird, or insect does from morning to night. On the long piece of paper, start from morning on the left and paint a continuous background showing where the main character goes during the day until nighttime on the right.

Color will be important to show brightness or darkness. Plan to mix, blend and layer your colors as you travel along the length of the paper. Paint your background paper from top to bottom, from left to right!

The wax paper or tracing paper will be the scroll top layer. This paper is translucent so you can see what is underneath. On the top layer of paper, draw a whole day’s adventure for your animal, bird or insect as it travels through the entire day.

Goal: To create a scroll to tell a visual story over time with emphasis on use of color and color mixing.


shoe box or chunk of Styrofoam
sticks or twigs
yarn or string
additional materials – you choose!

Let’s find some dried out sticks or twigs from nature at least 10” long for the warp.

Place the sticks standing up in a piece of Styrofoam or a recycled box. Space the sticks either close or farther apart.

Weaving can be done with many creative combinations of materials like yarn, string, ribbon, beads, or things collected from nature. With your WARP set up, then you are ready to weave, working with the WEFT materials. Work over, under between each stick, then under, over for the next row.

If sticks are farther apart, string some yarn between open sections and make small weavings in the open spaces between sticks.

Decide what you would like for your WEFT to weave into the WARP. Choose a variety of thickness, color and texture for your weaving.

OK, artists – take it from there!

Goal: explore choosing and weaving with creative materials to make a vertical sculpture.


3 x 5 inch index card
12 x 16 inch paper (printer paper can work, too)
crayon, pencil, or charcoal pencil

Viewfinders help us focus on what we are looking at. Fold the index card in half and cut a rectangle from the center of the card. Unfold your viewfinder and become an art detective!

Look inside or outdoors, holding the viewfinder away from your eyes to find your subject – far away gives you less to see, closer gives you more.

The viewfinder edge will cut off some of what you see, that’s when you stop creating a shape.

Sit with your paper on the table or drawing board. Hold your viewfinder and form shapes of what you see with your crayon or pencil. Create contrast by shading the areas that are darker.

Goal: Using a viewfinder, create either a realistic or abstract drawing that includes shading. Only draw what is inside the viewfinder.


9 x 12 inch paper
sharpie marker or crayon
watercolor set
soft paintbrush
water cup
paper towels

Sit where you can look at an open door or open window. The edges of the door or window will be the frame for what you see. Is the doorway or window horizontal or vertical? Place your paper correctly before you begin. Your artwork includes only what is viewed inside the door/window frame.

Sketch in some incomplete main lines with your Sharpie or crayon. These will be clues for painting in watercolor. With watercolors, start with washes of light colors, then adding some medium or darker colors onto the damp paper.

There will be some parts of shapes that end at the edge of the frame. That’s OK!

Goal: To look at and paint only what is inside your door/window frame.


15 x 15 inch paper
tempera paint
water cup
paper towels

Creating art is often inspired by what you see. You can also get inspiration from what you hear. Get ready your supplies and close your eyes. Listen for the sounds of nature or the sounds of cars, trucks, or people around you.

Use your brush to paint sounds. Some are soft, some are strong, some repeat over and over. Make painted marks to show soft, loud, and repetition. Let your brush travel over the paper. Mix your paint to emphasize what you hear. Your abstract painting will be inspired by what you have heard!

Goal: To create an abstract painting using marks and colors inspired by what you hear.

Accessible option: Find objects of different textures: hard, soft, fuzzy, smooth, etc. Interpret these textures with your paintbrush.


7 x 15 inch paper
colored construction paper
some practice paper
glue or glue stick

Drawing is more than using pencils, pens, or crayons. You can draw with only your scissors! Start by practicing with a small piece of paper and cut some straight, curved, diagonal, and zigzag lines. Plan larger shapes that will be placed on the horizontal 9 x 15 inch paper. These shapes will be silhouettes. There is no erasing in drawing with scissors so think and plan ahead.

Let’s create an activity showing several people or animals as silhouettes that are cut with your scissors. The edge of a shape will show details. Background paper can be a paper bag, newspaper, wax paper, whatever you can find – and be creative! Complete your artwork by placing figures on your background paper and glue in place.

Goal: to cut only using scissors, create an activity scene, learn the impact of a silhouette.


watercolor set with brush
one larger soft brush
watercolor paper, 9 x 12 inches or 11 x 16 inches
water container
paper towel

Watercolor is a transparent paint. It is painting more with water and less with pigment. As you add layers of paint, you can see what was painted underneath. Start with wet paper, work quickly, and let’s see what happens as the paint spreads or bleeds. Practice dots, dabs & swipes with different parts of your brush. Before you change to a new color, GIVE YOUR BRUSH A BATH! Dots are made with the point of your brush, dabs with the side of your brush. Save your practice papers as backgrounds for Sharpie line and painted shape additions.

Working on dry paper can give different effects. Once again, work quickly and keep that brush washed between color changes! When dry, use your wet painting paper as background to add new shapes.

After you practice and learn to plan ahead, larger paintings can be done outside as landscapes or flower portraits.

Goal:   introduction to watercolor techniques, explore, create and practice, practice, practice!


15 x 15 inch heavy paper or cardboard
Variety of 15 x 15 inch papers
Textured items from around your home

This week let’s create a textured self portrait. There are two kinds of texture: visual texture (that you can see) and tactile texture (that you can feel). Start by collecting lots of tactile materials. What kinds of paper can you find around your home? Look for parchment, wax paper, paper towels in the kitchen plus copy paper, newspaper, tissues . . . whatever plus cardboard just for starters!

Use the 15 x 15 inch heavy paper or cardboard as the base. What shapes will you need for head, eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hair and other details? Start creating large shapes then medium then small.

Cut or tear your large head shape. Materials can be folded, crumpled or combined in innovative ways. Be imaginative as you cut, tear, shape and glue layered materials in place.

Goal: to layer materials large to small, emphasizing use of tactile texture


9 x 12 inch drawing paper
charcoal pencil or one color of crayon
three or five objects for still life

Still life means things that do not move. It’s fun to set up your own still life for drawing. Arrange three or five objects together on a table. Larger things go in back with smaller items overlapping in front. Take time to look at your still life before starting to draw. Which thing can you see as a whole object? Start with a line to draw the edge of the whole object. Continue working to add each object. Watch for overlapping of shapes. When your line comes to a shape you have already drawn, stop and find another shape to add to your drawing. All done? Try to add just a few more textures, shading, or details for accents.

Goal: to set up your own still life, simple line drawing with overlapping.


paper 12” x 12”
assorted papers
glue or glue stick

In lots of artwork you do not always see whole shapes. Sometimes one shape covers part of another shape. This is called OVERLAPPING.

Work with any solid color or patterned paper you can find. Start by cutting or tearing both large and small paper shapes. Parts of magazine photos or ads are a good source. Make more shapes than you think you need.

Look at all your shapes and choose one that will be your center of interest. Place it on your 12” x 12” paper without gluing it down. Add more shapes, overlapping some. Smaller shapes can be used as accents. Keep in mind the positive and negative space of your artwork, working to have more of one and less of the other.

This is a good time to move your shapes around to create your most interesting artwork. When you think “I’m almost done,” it’s a good time to start gluing all your shapes in place. And be sure to remember overlapping.

Goal:   To place shapes to include overlapping, center of interest, and accents in your collage.


crayon pieces without paper covering
watercolor set
large grocery bag; cut off the entire plain side to use
recycled stuff: papers, foil, wrapping paper, string, twigs, straws,
and lots more . . .

Recycled materials make creative WEFT for weaving! Ready to start weaving?

Try to make a color or texture connection between warp and weft as you weave. Artists create great art out of recycled, repurposed materials. Let’s give it a try!

Weaving is fun and can begin with simple plain weave. That’s when you start row one with OVER, UNDER, OVER, UNDER, OVER . . . working to the end of the row.

Row two is just the opposite: UNDER, OVER, UNDER, OVER . . . to the end. You repeat these two rows to make the weaving piece.

Weaving needs a WARP to hold the WEFT what is woven into it.

Prepare the WARP first: on large grocery bag piece of paper, use crayons or watercolors or both together to create large areas of color for background.

Cut ¾” – 1 “ strips from bottom of paper up toward top. STOP CUTTING one inch before top of paper.

Goal:   To combine found materials, recycling them into new, creative artwork.


12” x 18” paper
pencil, sharpie, charcoal pencil, or crayon
drawing board or heavy piece of cardboard

Many times we draw using our imagination, today we are going to do observational drawing, that’s drawing what you look at and recording what you see.

Take your art materials outside and find a tree in your yard or close by the in the neighborhood.

Sit far enough away so you can see the whole tree. Close one eye, use your hand to follow the shape of the trunk, working up through branches to the leaves, and maybe even some flower, seed pods or dried leaves!

Choose one drawing tool, begin from the bottom up with lines to shape the tree.

Continue drawing to build large shapes, fine details, and textures. Continue to observe and create a large portrait of your tree.

Goal: use observation to draw including lines, shapes and textures.


12” x 12” paper

Crayons can be used in a wide variety of ways – drawing, marking, rubbing – to make lines, shapes, color mixtures and textures. What do crayons look like? Big and small, some have sharp points, dull points, no paper on them at all. And they all work!

Explore with your crayons, working artistically until your artwork reaches all four edges of your paper.

Goal: to include lines, shapes, colors and textures.

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