scratch drawings

on a recent trip to colorado to visit my dear fellow art therapist friends, they reminded me of a fun little activity that i used to do when i was a little girl – scratch drawings! as a kid, i loved the magic of revealing a rainbow under a dark, black veil. i thought N might appreciate this, too.

i thought i remembered painting thick paper with watercolor, coloring over it with thick black crayon, and scratching… but perhaps not. my art therapist friend (and momma) was doing this with her 3 year old and reminded me that you can color with crayons or pastels, and then put a thick coat of acrylic paint over the whole page to scratch through. so we gathered our materials (thick paper, crayons, acrylic black paint) and began…

N and i both covered a page with patches of tons of colors… i got a blister from doing this!

then we painted over the entire lovely page with black acrylic paint.


we let it dry overnight. once it was dry, we got out a few scratching tools – a wooden skewer, a paperclip, a tack, and a nail. not all of them were cool for young kids, but N seemed to do well and was careful with all of them. whew!

N drawing with a nail. (bad mommy?)

we scratched and scratched to reveal fun pictures… “nighttime scenes!” as N excited called them.

you know me and cutting things out and putting them on colorful papers as borders. (yeah, i did that again. maybe for cards?)


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  • we do this just with crayons. coloring one color on top of another and scratching with whatever’s around. i like the idea of the acrylic paint on top of the crayon! that probably has a more satisfying scratch.

    i am a believer in letting children use real objects, even if they are sharp. i wouldn’t let my daughter run around with them but sitting at a table and using them with focused attention builds confidence and real skills, in my point of view (i think this is part of the reggio emelia style we get in her school). so, right on with the nail!

  • Thanks for the post about this. I forgot all about this too! My kids will love this activity.

    Tricia 🙂

  • I remember doing this as a child too. This technique is great for making firework pictures.

  • Is it lazy that I buy mine already made?

  • I like using black tempera paint for this as well. It scratched off really easily. Of course tempera will not have the shine the acrylic does.