Painting On Foil - Van Gogh 'Starry Night' Art for Kids

Painting on foil is a fun and easy process art idea for kids that is sure to be popular! Foil painting using cotton buds (Q tips) as paintbrushes is a perfect art technique for toddlers and preschoolers who are working on fine motor skills and colour mixing.

Inspired by Van Gogh's 'The Starry Night' painting we used different shades of blue and explored swirling the paint around the foil which gives the artwork a real winter feel.

Painting on foil is a simple process art idea for kids. Inspired by Van Gogh's Starry night this activity works on fine motor skills and colour mixing for toddler and preschoolers.

Here are a few more fun art ideas for toddlers and preschooler you might enjoy:

You might also like some of the ideas in our book - Fun Painting Ideas for Kids.

This painting on foil activity works on so many skills for young children. Toddlers and preschoolers are able to work on fine motor skills, learn about a famous artist, explore colour mixing and experiment with a new media.

I love the use of blue and white on the foil and think that this artwork would be great to be made as part of a winter unit.

If you are looking for more ideas for a winter unit check out our toddler unit plans (winter is just one of 15 themes).

winter activity ideas for toddlers

We are loving our Exploring Famous Artists for Kids series this month and today's foil painting activity was inspired by the painting 'The Starry night' by Vincent Van Gogh. Using different shades of blue and white on a foil background really helps to create the swirly effect in Van Gogh's Painting 'Starry Night'.

If you are looking for an art project inspired by Van Gogh for older children check out out Van Gogh Starry Night Yarn Craft or Van Gogh Sunflowers for kids.

Painting On Foil - An easy art activity inspired by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh 'Starry Night' inspired painting on foil art activity ideas for kids.

Painting on foil supplies:

Foil Painting Directions:

TIPS: A few people have asked if the paint flakes off the foil once it is dry. The answer is that it does after a while. If you want to avoid this try adding a drop of washing up liquid (dish soap) to the paint or use acrylic paint (not recommend with small children).

Another option is to take a print of the artwork by placing a piece of paper on the top of the completed design and pressing it down, when you remove the paper you will be left with a print of your design. However, I personally think the best way of 'keeping' the artwork is to photograph it.

STEP 1: Prepare foil canvas

Set up your foil canvas by covering a piece of cardboard in foil, then tape it in place on the back.


STEP 2: Get your supplies ready

Take a look at Van Gogh's 'The Starry Night' painting for inspiration. Discuss the colours used and then squirt some blue and white paint out onto a paint pallet (we used a paper plate).

Look at the different shades of blue and the swirls and brush strokes within 'The Starry Night' painting.

Easy art techniques for kids: Painting on foil inspired by Van Goghs Starry Night.

STEP 3: Get painting!

Take a cotton bud (q tip) and dip it into the blue or white paint. Use your cotton bud as a paintbrush and paint on your piece of foil.

Keep referring back to 'The Starry Night' painting to look for inspiration.


Our Starry Night Foil Paintings

Daisy (21months) got stuck straight in. She picked up a cotton bud straight away and dipped it into the paint. I thought she might choose to use her fingers, but she really enjoyed 'being grown up' and using the cotton buds like everyone else.

Painting on foil using q tips.  Fine motor skills for toddlers and preschoolers.

I had a go at swirling some paint around to encourage Daisy and before long she decided that she would prefer to work on my painting than her own.

Painting on foil using q tips.  Fine motor skills and colour mixing for toddlers and preschoolers.

Harry (aged 4) looked at the 'Starry Night' painting and had a go at recreating some of the small brush strokes. He then used his cotton bud to make some large swirly shapes around his foil.

Painting on foil using q tips - simple art ideas for kids.

Harry enjoyed mixing the paints together and pointed out that he could make is own swirly sky on the paper plate by mixing the colours together. He loved seeing the different shades of blue that he could make.

Painting on foil using cotton buds - simple process art activity for kids.

This activity was easy to set up using items we had at home and each piece of artwork was unique.

simple fun painting techniques for kids- painting on foil

Painting on foil is such a fun art technique for young children. The reflective nature of the foil makes it appealing to toddlers and preschoolers and the cotton bud paintbrushes move differently on foil than they would on paper.

As well as being a great art project to encourage young children to look at famous artists this foil painting craft is perfect for a winter project for kids.

Painting on foil is a simple process art idea for kids. Inspired by Van Gogh's Starry night this activity works on fine motor skills and colour mixing for toddler and preschoolers.

Another fun take on painting on foil is to use ice paints on foil! We tried this out and have shared details about it in our book - Fun Painting Ideas for kids. We also had fun taking prints of our foil painting by pressing a piece of paper onto the wet paint. 

painting on foil

If you enjoyed painting on foil and learning about Van Gogh and The Starry Night you might enjoy taking a look at our printable pack of project ideas inspired by famous artists. (Lots of these are aimed at older children, but some are great for younger children to!)

Art for kids inspired by famous artists

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  1. Replies
    1. Yes it does and you can keep the artwork. If you wrap the foil around card it will help it last a bit longer.

    2. Does the paint stay on the foil or does it chip off after a while? This looks like an amazing activity I'd like to do with my kindergarten class. Thanks. Michelle

    3. I kept ours for a couple of days and they were fine but if you wanted them to last for a long time I couldn't say for sure. My guess is that the paint may flake off if they were moved or knocked. Its a really fun activity to do though even if the artwork doesn't last. You could always take a photo of their paintings?

    4. Could you spray the painting with a clear coat or even hair spray(use this often in my elementary classroom) to make the painting more resilient and "permanent"? I did not see any mention of this..... and would like to try this with my class of students with autism.

    5. I'm not sure Susan, I haven't tried this. Using acrylic paint will stop it chipping or maybe just enjoy the process and take a photo or print of the artwork?

    6. Really acrylic paint would be a permanent fix, but have very little of it in the elementary classroom... too expensive for my little kiddos but we sure love to paint with tempera! I think I will have my kiddos make prints of their foil paintings on dark blue or black paper, and we will learn about Starry Night and Van Gogh in the process - they love to see things on the white board via the projector!

  2. Hi there! If you mix regular blue Dawn dish soap with your paint, it is supposed to keep the paint from chipping. Don't be shy with the soap! I did it before and it worked well!

  3. I think you could laminate the foil, that way the paint can't chip.

  4. Or maybe wrap the painting (on card) in plastic wrap to prevent chipping?

  5. Or you could wrap the painting (on card) carefully with plastic wrap -when dry- to prevent chipping?

  6. I didn't read through the comments but I was wondering if you could just transfer to a piece of paper. Anyway I love your creative ideas and I love more that you are so generous of your time to share them. You are a good Mommy. Your family is so Blessed to have you.

    1. Awww thank you so much Lynne, what a lovely thing to say.

      Printing the design onto a piece of paper is a great idea if you want to keep the artwork.


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