How to Paint Fireworks With Your Kids
Want to try out a new painting technique?
Create the explosive effects of fireworks with this fun and easy art project.
Your one-of-a-kind piece of art will capture a spectacular nighttime display.
In this article I’ll show you how to use a fun, unique technique to paint fireworks in an illuminated city sky.
Why Paint Fireworks?
Fireworks light up the sky with booming excitement. The fantastic display of colors can take your breath away and create quite an experience for the whole family to enjoy.
You sometimes see fireworks at a festival, a ballgame or other special event. Fireworks are a key element to holidays like Chinese New Year or the Fourth of July. If you haven’t experienced fireworks in a while, make it a point to seek them out. Or watch fireworks videos online.
As entertaining as fireworks are, they are over quickly. When the smoke clears, you’re left with an amazing experience and some nice memories. Recreate the fun with your kids and paint your own fireworks!
One time of year you are likely to see fireworks in the United States is on Independence Day, which is celebrated every year on the 4th of July. Fireworks have long been a traditional part of 4th of July festivities.
One of the largest displays of fireworks in the United States is the annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks show in New York City. Check out this time-lapse of the 2013 Macy’s fireworks show.
Many families gather with their friends and neighbors to watch large fireworks displays in stadiums or parks. Those who are lucky enough can just step outside their door and catch local fireworks displays near their homes.
It’s awesome to see the brightly lit sky highlighting the silhouettes of your city’s unique skyline.
Don’t have fireworks nearby? Now you can make your own. This is a two-part adventure. Paint your fireworks one day and make the silhouette background the next.
Before you even pick up a paintbrush, talk about fireworks with your family. Where did you last see fireworks together? What was the best part about seeing fireworks and the event that led up to the fireworks display? Have everyone share a fireworks memory and their favorite shape, style or color of fireworks.
Ready? Let’s get started.
#1: Gather Your Supplies and Prepare to Paint
Gather your supplies and head to your work area. You may want to put down some newspaper.
Next, fill a large bowl or container with water to use for mixing with paint and cleaning brushes.
Cut the straws in half so you’ll have two painting implements per straw. Yes we are painting with straws.
Choose a dark-colored piece of paper for your sky. The sky doesn’t have to be black. Check out the Pinterest images, above. There are skies of blue, purple, grey and even red. You will need an unpainted piece of black paper later so be sure to set an extra one aside if you do choose to use black for your sky.
Take out extra sheets of paper to practice on first. This technique can take some getting used to. Play around and experience different ways of painting before creating your piece of art.
Squeeze out a small amount of the colors you would like to use on a small plate or paint palette.
Mix the colors you would like to use together. Add some water to the paint to allow it to easily drip on the paper. Ideally, when you sweep your brush through the paint and hold it above the paper, a large drip will fall from the brush.
Play around with how much paint and water to mix together. Part of the fun in learning this process is playing with your paint.
#2: Paint Fireworks With a Straw
Once you have your paint “recipe” down, drop enough paint on the paper to create a small puddle of paint.
Stand up, take your straw and blow on the paint to spread the puddle. This can take a little practice, so be patient and have fun!
Use different amounts of air, paint, water, etc. Notice how this changes how the paint behaves. Use the straw at different angles and note how it changes the shape of your fireworks. For example, a short burst of air in the center will make more of a round shape.
It’s OK if they don’t turn out exactly how you planned. Remember that fireworks are not perfect, so have fun and fill the sky with colorful explosions.
Work on individual fireworks paintings or combine your efforts into one masterpiece. It’s kind of fun to do both. Take turns blowing the paint around the paper together.
Leave your fireworks as they are or add a little detail with your paintbrush. You can also paint fireworks with a paintbrush.
#3: Paint Fireworks With a Paintbrush
If you find it tricky to use straws to “paint” your fireworks, paint fireworks with a brush.
Dip your brush in paint, and paint a simple star shape. Start with your brush in the center and stroke outward. Build on your star, using as many brushstrokes as you’d like. Layer colors to create a colorful starburst firework.
You can also give the straw-painted fireworks a bit more detail if you add these types of brushstrokes to their centers. Again, it’s a good idea to practice first and figure out how much or how little to add.
Once you are pleased with your fireworks, set your paintings aside to dry.
#4: Illuminate Your Fireworks
To add the shimmer and sparkle of real fireworks, light up your painted fireworks!
Use glitter glue to add some finishing touches and extra sparkly details.
Allow your glitter glue to dry overnight.
#5: Guess the Silhouette
Most firework displays are behind buildings, over water or at a distance to be safe for everyone. When the night sky lights up and leaves the objects around it in shadow, it creates an interesting silhouette.
Now that you know what a silhouette is, let’s play a game…
Question: Do you recognize this famous place?
Answer: Walt Disney World. This is Cinderella’s castle in silhouette!
If you were right, what gave it away? Talk about the distinguishing features that were prominent in the shadow.
Ready to try another one?
Question: Who is this famous couple? Can you recognize who they are by their silhouettes?
Answer: The President of the United States Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The President and First Lady watched the fireworks over the National Mall from the White House on July 4, 2009.
Did you get that one right? Now that you know who they are, can you recognize them?
If you enjoyed playing this guessing game, go online and find some more silhouettes. Take turns finding the pictures and guessing people and places.
#6: Design Your Silhouette Cityscape
Once you have a sky filled with fireworks, and a better understanding of silhouettes, create a silhouette setting to frame your fireworks.
Decide if you want to draw a silhouette from memory, your imagination or research online.
For example: If you traveled with your family on a memorable vacation, perhaps you can find a silhouette from that destination.
Here are some great examples of silhouettes on a Pinterest board that you can also use for inspiration.
Once you have an idea for your subject, start the creation process. Fold a sheet of black paper in half horizontally and cut along the fold. You now have two long strips you can use for cityscapes. Again, work on your own silhouettes, create a picture as a family or both.
Use your pencil to draw your imaginary city, a skyline from memory or the cityscape you found online. Even though the paper is dark, the shiny effect of the graphite pencil will make it easy to see your pencil lines.
Carefully cut out the silhouettes. Young kids may need help with this step.
Turn over your cityscapes after you cut them out. That way, you won’t see any trace of your pencil lines and you’ll have a nice clean silhouette.
Add some details to your cityscape with glitter glue if you’d like. My daughter decided to the turn the lights on in one of her buildings, so she filled the windows with sparkle!
#7: Assemble Your Fireworks Painting
Using the glue stick, apply glue to the back of the cityscape silhouette. Attach it to the bottom of your fireworks painting.
The cityscape silhouette adds depth to your fireworks and creates a setting for your colorful fireworks display.
Voilà! A fabulous fireworks painting!
Some Final Thoughts…
Fireworks are spectacular and amazing displays of art in the sky. Bring the “ooh” and “ahh” factors into your own works of art.
Whether you create your fireworks painting to remember a special event or dream them up, you’ll make new memories when you explore this new painting technique as a family. Plus, you get the added bonus of a one-of-a-kind piece artwork to have on display!
What do you think? Do you enjoy watching fireworks? What’s the best part? Were you able to translate a fireworks memory into a piece of art? What fun shapes were you able to make? What colors did you use? Please share your experience and pictures of your artwork in the comments.
Crystal Foth is a mom and artist based in Los Angeles, CA. She manages 19 Southern California art studios and spends her free time enjoying creative adventures with her daughter. Other posts by Crystal Foth »