Friday, July 4, 2014


My kindergartener has found his love of drawing. For the best part of this year, he collects his paper and textas at some stage through the day - every day - and gives all his attention to what his beautiful little brain is trying to create.

A few months ago on a trip to the local library, he found How to Train Your Dragon amongst the family movies. He was hooked. It's been all about Hiccup and Toothless ever since. As he watches Riders of Berk, he lays on the floor with his big sketch pad and textas (not a fan of the pencils) and draws all the characters and their varying types of dragons, all with wonderful detail.

A few weeks ago he drew Hiccup. Again. His best yet. I knew I wanted to do something with it to remember how perfect his little mind is, at this moment in his life. Plus, the boys' room has needed an update on the artwork so it made perfect sense to transform it.

I wanted to enlarge his already quite sizeable drawings to transfer onto a 100 x 75cm canvas ($18 from the Reject Shop). I took his drawings to Officeworks and spent my $2 on enlargements. As I waited, I stood next to the pen/marker island - the one that completely confuses you because you didn't realise so many types of pens and markers ACTUALLY EXISTED! Initially, I had envisioned painting in the pencilled transfer onto the canvas. Until I saw the paint pens. $6 well spent indeed!

Positioning the drawings on the back of the canvas, with full window light behind, I traced his outlines onto the canvas, being careful not to smudge the grey lead. Transferring Toothless was a little harder given his size - I could't fit the entire drawing through the timber cross frame on the back of the canvas, so I had to cut him in two and do it that way.

Once the tracing was done, I used the paint pen to bring Hiccup and Toothless to life. The original drawings were done in black and white. The only colour used was for Toothless' artificial tail piece, and I wanted to keep them authentic to the original. For such a small piece of colour, a paint pen was a waste of money so I just used a fine brush with red acrylic paint to outline. Working on such a big piece required a little planning when using the paint pen. Obviously it works just like paint - it goes on wet (but dries fairly quickly), which means it's perfect for smudging the side of your hand over as you try to trace everything. I worked around the edge of the canvas, filling in some parts sideways and most of the top was filled in upside down. I only had one shot to get it right - any smudges could not be undone so I was very conscious about keeping the paint in front of my hand at all times.

I was so rapt with the result - it looks just like it did in my head! A bright, solid colour piece will be hung up next to it, and it needs a little border to make it pop against the white wall but apart from that, I love it. This is such a simple and easy way to make your child's artwork a real feature in their home. Obviously you don't need to go this big, but the point is, your only limitation is your imagination. I'm so proud of how quickly his drawing skills have escalated (even if we have a billion A3 size drawings of Thunderdrums, Gronkles and Zipplebacks..), and showing his drawings on such a big scale in our home, serves as daily celebration and encouragement to continue his creativity.

It's also very cost effective. Right now, in this moment, he is Hiccup/Toothless mad (and the rest of us have no choice but to follow suit - we saw HTTYD2 yesterday and I cried like a baby in the cinema). In six months time, something new may have taken their place and his drawings will tell a different story. And when that happens, another canvas of his artwork can be created. So spending $26 on a truly unique piece of artwork to reflect my son's interests at this moment in time makes perfect sense to me (that in all honesty will probably always be displayed in our home, even when he's grown and shaving, I just love it so much!).

I've been enjoying using the kids' watercolour paints lately. A little inspiration needed here and there.. I hear a nice quote, something to push me through the hard days.. or simply keep me in track, I grab the watercolour sketch pad (we like the Art Masters range from Masters) and paints (Micador series from Big W) and have a quick play. Within minutes, you've got a bright little piece to stick on the fridge, near the computer or fill an old, tired looking frame (I gave these old ones in the boys' room a lick of spray paint, just like new again!). If you have school aged children, you can show them what you would like written and ask if they'd like to do it for you? My six year old is always eager to help.

Purchasing beautiful art prints by talented artists is a lovely treat for me; I recently purchased this beauty from the wonderfully talented Lauren Merrick. But financial constraints mean it's a rarity to see a piece I love and be able to buy it straight away. While the kids are young and enjoy drawing and creating their own artwork so much - it's the perfect to time to make good use of it.

And if you're a parent of kindy/primary school aged children - you will know all too well, there is always an endless supply.. so let's use it!


  1. Love it! My eldest loves to draw amd his work will look great made huge on the wall, great idea, thank you

  2. Thanks for this idea, it beats having multiple drawings hanging off the fridge and blowing off every time someone opens the door. I love It. T x

  3. This really does look amazing! I love the little pop of red. What a talented little boy you have (with an inspiring mum, too).

  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the prints over the beds - so fun! And what a great way to preserve your kids' art. I grew up with my paintings and drawings all framed on the walls :)

  5. What a fabulous idea! Will try it out myself very soon. Just wondering what font you used the create the 'keep the wild in you' poster? I really like it. Sara

    1. Hi Sara - the prints above the beds are hand painted - so the font is me! ha! I just muddle capitals and lowercase with no particular order - I am too lazy to pencil in the text and then go over with paint.. so I just freehand it.

    2. Fantastic! Your writing is much, much neater than I can ever hope to create myself!! Love the idea though, so it may be time to have a go. Thanks for the inspiration!!


Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em