Seattle's Child

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art projects

Visiting the Barbara Earl Thomas exhibit. (All photos by JiaYing Grygiel)

4 easy art projects inspired by a visit to Seattle Art Museum

See stunning works of art, then try out the techniques at home. Here's how.

Art projects: My sons and I love this time of year, when the hordes of tourists go home and the big kids go back to school. Practically overnight, all the parks and public spaces quiet down and become the domain of tots and preschoolers.

The Seattle Art Museum (1300 1st Ave.) is a surprisingly kid-friendly excursion, especially on weekday mornings, when you pretty much get the galleries to yourself. Two hours is the perfect amount of time for a museum walk-through and a snack. After that, you can head home for a nap — and art projects.

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A peaceful moment with children.

General admission at SAM is $20 for adults, and kids are admitted free. The museum’s definition of a child age 14 and under is unusually generous for a downtown attraction.

Walking through the galleries is so peaceful and inspiring. Here are four easy at-home art projects we came up with after a recent visit to SAM:

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Amazing dot art: From the Australian Aboriginal art gallery at SAM.

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How to have fun with dots at home.

Our favorite room in the whole museum is the Australian Aboriginal art gallery. It’s part of the permanent collection, tucked in the back next to Northwest Native art. These large-scale paintings are composed of a bunch of dots. Dots! Yes, you can try it too. We used dot painters at home for our art project, but any fat-tipped marker will work.

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“Triadic Series D”

We found this screen print, “Triadic Series D” (1969), in one of the modern galleries. Anni Albers was best known as a textile artist, and when she was 70, she became a printmaker. This pattern is made up of lots of triangles. At home, we used shape blocks to form our own graphic compositions. It was an easy way to sneak in a little geometry lesson too.

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Experimenting with shapes at home.


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From the incredible Barbara Earl Thomas exhibit.

The Barbara Earl Thomas exhibit, “The Geography of Innocence,” is about racial injustice and color lines. Her work is striking and beautiful.

The hues of the elaborate etchings immediately made me think of rainbow scratch paper. You can make your own rainbow scratch paper: Completely cover a piece of cardstock with crayon, then coat black tempera paint over it. When it’s dry, use a wooden skewer to carve out your picture. We went the easy route and used store-bought rainbow scratch paper.

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Young kids can practice etching at home with rainbow scratch paper.


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Visitors experience the feeling of walking into an intricate lantern at Barbara Earl Thomas’ exhibit at SAM.

Thomas fills one entire room with intricate floor-to-ceiling cutout designs. It’s like the most beautiful wallpaper you have ever seen — like walking into a lantern. For our at-home art project, I showed the kids how to fold a piece of paper and use their safety scissors to cut out designs. 

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At home, you can show kids the rudiments of how the artist created these light effects.

Enjoy creating your art projects!

Originally published Aug. 26, 2021


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About the Author

JiaYing Grygiel

JiaYing Grygiel is a photographer and writer in Seattle. Find her on Instagram @photoj.seattle and at