Flow Drawing for Kids: How to Draw a Little Bird: Flow Drawing is a new art technique developed by us here at Arty Crafty Kids to encourage children (and adult beginners too!) to understand shapes and create illustrations, in a much ‘freer’ way.
It’s the perfect alternative to traditional ‘how to draw’ guides – by removing restrictions, flow drawing encourages children to fully engage in the moment and discover their natural flow, bringing mindfulness to their creative process.
And the great thing about this technique is that the options are endless – any shape or design can be explored and the process is suitable for children of all ages.
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As a child learning to draw, I instinctively refused to erase incorrect lines: in my creative mind, every line belonged and had a purpose. However that’s not necessarily the way we’re encouraged to learn and draw. Many how to draw guides for kids focus on single clear shapes, and being unable to reproduce exactly what they see can lead to frustration and a loss of confidence.
The flow drawing process eliminates the notion that lines can be incorrect and so empowers the children in their own creativity and ability.
Using repetitive flowing movements along the same line helps to define the shape into something clear and bold, allowing the child to fully engage in the process, understand more about how shapes are formed and discover their own natural rhythm.
Through this process, of drawing up and down, up and down, a single clear line will eventually emerge – the result of literally going with the flow.
Mindfulness is the process of purposely bringing one’s attention to the present moment; to be fully immersed, free from distraction.
Mindfulness is now being discussed more and more, as we’ve begun to understand its importance for mental health and wellness, and actively practicing mindfulness can bring a whole host of benefits, from lowering stress and anxiety, to fostering calm, aiding sleep and even boosting your immune system! And utilising mindfulness in art can really open paths to creativity and innovation, free from judgement.
But it can be easy to forget, as often frazzled adults, that this is just as important for our children’s wellbeing as it is for our own.
So our Arty Crafty Kids flow drawing guides aim to bring mindfulness to the creative process by shifting the focus away from the end result (which can sometimes bring anxiety, through a need for perfection) to the process of drawing itself – discovering natural flow and rhythm through repetitive movements. As people often say: it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
Our guides will help children to explore simple shapes and are designed to build confidence in their own creative ability, and foster a love of art and self-expression.
Acrylic or Tempura / Watercolor Paint
Marker Pens (optional)
For the outline of the bird, we’re going to use a black wax crayon. It will help you to create light and dark shades, and the colour quickly builds as you flow back over your lines.
Let’s start with the bird’s tail, so draw a little curl, swoop down, then up and over… You might feel like carrying on and creating the bird’s body in one line, but we recommend stopping at the head and creating the body in two parts. This will help to build your confidence with the flow drawing technique and help you to really embrace creating those flowing simple shapes instead of committing to creating the body in one go.
So go back to the tail, draw a second curl, swoop up, then down and around again to create the lower half of the bird’s body. Go back and forth, back and forth to create the round shapes and defined lines you’re looking for, and to really feel what you’re drawing.
It will look a bit like a fish right now, but let’s keep going to build our bird!
Create a folded wing by drawing a semicircle coming down from the top of your bird’s body. Remember to go back over your line, over your line, to form your shape.
Now let’s give our bird a little tummy by drawing a smaller semicircle, this time coming up from the bottom of the body.
Finish the bird by giving her a triangle beak, a little eye and two legs: they’re just a stick with a long toe poking out on each side.
It’s time to make our simple bird into a beautiful picture. So let’s add some detail: perhaps give your bird a few extra curls on her tail and a head feather to match, so she looks super fancy! And don’t forget to give her a home. Draw some branches for her to sit on, add some leaves – and maybe even some blossom, if she’s a spring bird!
When your design is complete, it’s time to paint! The lines we drew with the black wax crayon will stay nice and defined and will repel water so as you paint, your lovely design won’t smudge or fade.
We think acrylic paints, with their strong bright colors, are perfect for this. Have fun experimenting with them but as a guide, using water with the acrylic (a wet application) helps spread the paint, whilst using the paint alone (a dry application) will give you more solid, blocky colours.
If it’s easier, younger children may prefer to use pencils or crayons to complete their picture.
Let’s finish the picture by adding a final flourish!
Use a marker pen, or if you’re more confident a fine tipped paintbrush, to add some detail to your design. You could add pattern to the bird, swirls to the sky, or even tiny bugs to the branches – let your imagination go wild!
We created a multi-colored dot design for our bird simply by dipping the end of a paintbrush into the paint and dabbing it on.
If you enjoyed drawing the first little bird and would like to make her a friend, why not have a go at our second design.
We’ll use a very similar technique to the first version, but let’s give this bird a wider, fuller tail. So instead of a curl, start with a sort of sausage shape, then swoop down, up and over. Then the bottom of the body – draw another sausage shape, this one pointing downwards, swoop up, then down and around again. Don’t forget to go back and forth, back and forth over those lines. Give the tail some extra depth by drawing a few more feathers, like petals on a flower, into the space between the first two.
As well as a different tail, let’s give this bird a different wing too. Starting from a point, above the birds body, sweep your crayon down, around and back up again in a teardrop shape. Go back over your line until you’re happy with the wing. Use the extra line created as it crosses over the body to create a lovely wavy or stripy design on the wing.
Finish the bird outline with the beak, eye and legs. Don’t forget the head feather to match the different style of tail!
Once you’ve drawn on the branches and leaves, you’re ready to paint. Add on any extra detail with marker pens or a fine brush and your second beautiful bird is complete. Now you just need to find a place to hang your work of art!
Creative and fun art & craft ideas for parents and educators of children 3-8 years old.
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