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From Paint to Paper Mache: Exploring the World of Mixed Media


When you sign up your kids for an art class or an art summer camp, you might not know exactly what to expect in terms of activities. This is especially true for parents who aren’t artistically inclined themselves. You might imagine rows of easels and paint brushes, or maybe colored pencils and crayons. The ideas for art materials that your children are using are, after all, up to the art teacher—you just want to give your kid a place to get creative.


The thing is, though, that using different materials with varying textures is important. Not only do we express ourselves more fully when using a variety of materials, but being exposed to a range of textures actually helps us develop important sensory skills. If your kids are only drawing or only sculpting, they’re having a specialized experience. That’s absolutely fine, of course, but there’s also a lot of value in an activity that incorporates paint and clay and paper. Here are a few reasons why exploring mixed media at art camp can be great for your kids this summer.

Using Different Materials

Paint is not the same as clay, which is unlike paper mache—this is obvious. What may be less obvious is how using a range of arts and crafts materials brings out distinct sides of the artist. When your kid is painting with watercolors at art camp, they are able to be much freer than they would be when using a colored pencil. Crafting a collage is a completely distinct experience frm painting or drawing in that the artist has control over how they express themselves through a handful of given supplies. They’re reacting to a predestined situation. By introducing all of these modalities at art summer camp, art teachers are providing a safe space for your child to express their ideas and feelings about the world in an array of ways.

Mixing Materials

Naturally, the art teacher might suggest that campers or students use disparate materials in a single piece. This might look like creating a collage and then painting or drawing on top. Or it might look like sculpting with clay or playdough, incorporating found objects (tiles, beads, or anything else) into the sculpture, and then painting it. This leads to an even richer experience of self expression for art camp or art class attendees. While there’s a lot of value in focusing on and developing specific crafts and skills, having an assortment of materials to explore allows your budding artist to express all sides of themselves—the messy part, the orderly part, the colorful part—without feeling any limitations.

Changing it Up

The right arts and crafts class or summer camp for your kid might differ from one year (or even one season!) to the next. A kid might be enthralled with melted crayon art or acrylic paints in the fall and then feel the cool, earthy textures of clay calling out to them in the springtime. A newbie in the art class world might not be sure what speaks most to their creative selves. Make sure to keep an open conversation with your child about which aspects of art camp or art class they feel are most meaningful. A mixed media art class or summer camp might be just the ticket for a kid who’s not sure what’s most intriguing, whereas a seasoned artistic kiddo might be more fulfilled by a class with a specific bent.


Art classes open up your kids to a whole world of sensory experiences and opportunities to express themselves to the fullest. With an infinity of craft materials and options, they’ll be able to try out new avenues. It’s more than a trip to the craft store could ever give you—under the guidance of their art teachers they’ll be on a mixed-media adventure every time they step into the studio.