Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Natural Paintbrushes

Posted by Rosie

In the fourth of our series of nature games and activities for children today we have:

  Natural Paintbrushes

What child does not like painting so why not make things a bit different and make your own paintbrushes out of natural materials.  

Natural paintbrushes

To make and paint with natural paintbrushes you will need:

  • A selection of natural materials that you might be able to use to make paintbrushes - eg grass, leaves, wool, feathers, flowers etc.
  • Straight sticks for paintbrush handles
  • String, sellotape or other natural binding materials
  • Paints and paper

A selection of natural materials for making paintbrushes

In the top picture the brushes are made from:

Top - Large stem of dead plant (umbellifer) and rosemary leaves secured with a strip off a piece of rhubarb
Middle - Elder stem and grass secured with tape
Bottom - Stick with the bark stripped off and hay, secured with tape

How you continue this activity is really up to you.  Options include:

  • Use the materials you have collected as they are to paint or print pictures
  • Bind the natural materials to the sticks to make paintbrushes and make pictures
  • Compare the different paintbrushes to see the effects they make
  • Discuss which brushes worked well and which ones did not
  • Try to recreate a famous painting with your natural paintbrushes
  • Ask your children what materials they most like painting with
  • Talk about what bought paintbrushes are made from and whether they are better or worse than the natural paintbrushes

Paintings made with natural paintbrushes

Of the 3 paintbrushes Tom, Ben and I made (top picture) the hay one was not ideal as bits of hay kept falling out; the grass one was a bit difficult to control but the rosemary one was the best once we had shortened the length of the "brush".

Do let us know if you  have make some masterpieces with natural paintbrushes - you can always post your pictures on our Facebook page


  1. Love the concept, Rosie and love the post! I can think of a number of littlies in my life who would be thrilled with a project like this! Next time I see them ... THANKS and HUGS <3

  2. Lovely idea! Will try it out with my little cousins :-D

  3. What a great idea! This is so much more fun than using commercial paintbrushes. It is also a great way to help the little ones connect with nature. -- Sue Allen Clayton

    1. Thank you - it's something even my older boys liked doing.

  4. Very cool! My little 8yo would love to do this!

  5. They look nice! I remember doing this when I was a kid. As a kid I am addicted to drawing and we dont have money for art supplies. I only get cheap watercolor. The brushes that goes with it doesnt work well so I will make my own brush! I use doll's hair =P #LetKidsBeKids

  6. Great idea, I'd love to try that. My kids love painting, so thats a fab way to make it a little different whilst exploring nature.
    Thank for linking #LetKidsbeKids

  7. What a good idea, my two love collecting things and this would be a great thing to do with them #letkidsbekids (www.lovinglifewithlittleones.com)


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