Rainbow Comb Paintings

Enjoy a fabulous art process using combs and brightly coloured paints, to explore textures and patterns with kids! 
Painting sessions with young children are much less about creating an end result and finished product than they should be about exploring materials in an experimental, hands-on way. This fun activity teaches kids tout using new materials in a different way, investigating how to create patterns and textures and observing colour mixing.

 We recently found this great selection of plastic combs at the £1 shop and stocked up on them ready to do some fun experimenting with what effects we could create when dragging them through paint. Using a baking tray lined with tin foil, we squirted in some bright, ready-mix paints in rainbow colour order and dipped the combs into it to pick up some colour on the tips.

First they tried scraping the paint onto the paper this way, but it was hard to pick up enough to make many marks, so we quickly modified our idea by squirting the paints directly onto the paper and then scraping the combs through straight away. The results were gorgeous! We found the wide-tooth comb was the most effective although the fine combs did create an interesting contrast of tiny lines.
When we added larger amounts of paint, the colours merged together in a beautiful marbled effect after the comb was dragged through.  Some sections looked like the patterns in peacock feathers!
Next I tried squirting the paint on in three wavy lines of colours, then asked them to experiment with combing the paint in a downward stroke to see what would happen as they combined. The result was a beautiful ocean-like effect!

 We did the same again using two colours in a swirly heart shape, and they combed in criss-cross patterns to blend and mix them together.

We did find that the colours quickly merged to become a gunky brown sludge if over-painted and mixed through. So after a couple of experimental attempts we talked about simply dragging the colours until they were just mixed, then moving onto the next piece of paper. It helps to have lots of papers ready to go, as once they have started they are very keen to work fast!
These could look stunning as papers to cover notebooks or cut into shapes for the front of birthday and thank you cards for friends!
If you enjoyed this post then check out our hundreds of other art and craft ideas for children here!
What they are learning as they play:
creativity: experimenting witha  range of media, creating textures and patterns using everyday materials, combining colours to create new ones
motor skills: dragging an object, baby grip, hand/eye co-ordination, wrist and hand muscle strength
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  1. Anonymous says

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  2. says

    Love this!
    On a different note every time we paint the paper ends up rolling – it never stays flat once dry. Does this happen to you too? How do I keep them flat for hanging?

  3. christina says

    this looks like fun, my little one (2.5 yrs) isn’t always so interested in paint in any form but she might get a big kick out of this.

    by the way, if you happen to have suggestions for the type of paints you use most often, for this kind of thing or whatever, I would love to hear them. I see “bright, ready-mix paints” described in the post, is that just tempera paints? something else non-toxic? do you ever use powder and mix it yourself? thanks.

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