Activity: Twenty Textures

By Marjorie Sarnat Posted 9/11/12 | Updated 3/3/23

This activity opens minds to new possibilities in art by broadening awareness of textures.

Put everyday objects to new uses (flexible thinking) as stamps you dip into paint and print on paper and as templates to rub over with crayons on paper. Then cut up the stampings and rubbings and make collages.

Painting by Marjorie Sarnat
"Ancient Secrets," detail of a painting by Marjorie Sarnat © 2012

Practice fluency as you and your child collect many texture makers, but use flexible thought to collect varied kinds. Maybe your child has an innovative way to use them with paint (originality.)

As you create imagery with your texture makers attend to the details (elaboration) that will make your artworks complete and charming.


  • Large bag or basket
  • Several pieces of paper — any size and kind will work
  • Water-based paint such as watercolors or acrylics
  • A mixing palette. White paper plates are an inexpensive alternative to disposable palette pads.
  • Paper towels
  • Non-tipping container of water placed on a paper towel
  • Crayons
  • Children’s scissors
  • Non-toxic glue stick

SAFETY NOTE: If you’re working with young kids keep safety in mind. Especially avoid pointy tools and toxic materials.

Activities and Procedures


Grab a large bag or basket and go on an imaginative hunting trip with your kids all around the backyard and throughout your house. Your home front is teeming with possibility.

Hunt for leaves, bark, bricks, stucco walls, wood surfaces, scraps of cloth, spiral notebook edges, bubble wrap, crumpled paper, potato mashers, stray buttons, old shoes, and items of all manner.

Forget intended uses and notice only an item’s surface texture.

Find at least five different things to use as stamps or templates for rubbings. Gather what you can and make notes on locations you’ll return to, such as trees or brick walls. Be armed with paper and crayons. Think flexibly and originality will come.



1. Put puddles of paint out onto a paper plate or palette. The paint should not be too watery and drippy.

2. Dip items into the paint and stamp onto paper. Apply another stamp separately or right over your first stamped image, but let paint dry between applications. Explore the possibilities.


3. Place a piece of paper over a textured object or surface.

4. Rub across the paper with the side of a crayon until a texture appears. Experiment with color combinations and rubbing techniques.


5. Cut or tear your textures into smaller pieces and shapes.

6. Using the glue stick, adhere the pieces to a sheet of paper. Create mosaic style designs or layer the pieces onto each other. Let intuition be your guide.

Consider stamping over your collage to unify the surface. Feel free to add more imagery and messages as a final touch. Elaborate to your heart’s content.

Both Art-isms and Twenty Textures are about engaging in creative thinking exercises. The benefits of doing these activities will strengthen your creativity in many areas of your and your child’s life.

In addition, by practicing the components of creative thinking along with imagination, intuition, and personal expression — the emotional aspects of creativity — you can produce wonderful artwork.

All creative artworks, masterful or not, are worth producing for this experience and therefore have meaning and energy. And behind every truly great work of art is the creative process accessible to all. Happy painting!

©2012 by Marjorie Sarnat. All rights reserved.