Outdoor Art for Summer: Making Sun Prints

How to make sun prints, a great outdoor art project for homeschoolers

Here in New England, after a long, cold winter, we just want to get outside when summer comes. Along with nature exploration, bike riding, beach trips, and good ol’ running around, we make art outside, too. Art doesn’t have to be saved as a rainy-day activity—in fact, for some of these activities, you need the sun. Keep your art habit going strong with this made-for-summer project.

Photo by: Amy Hood

Photo by: Amy Hood


Sun paper, which is treated to react to sunlight, seems magical. Anything placed on the surface of the paper blocks sunlight—thus, the reaction. The paper comes with directions and is simple to use. However, you don’t want to expose it before your items are arranged, so you need to arrange in a darker area and then carry it out to the sunlight—another great use for drawing boards! If you have a piece of glass or Plexiglas, layering that on top of your paper and items will prevent anything from blowing away while still allowing the sunlight to reach the paper. 

Once the paper pales, the reaction is complete. To “develop” the prints, you merely need to rinse them in water. Make sure the kids are involved with every part of this process, because it’s very cool to watch. When the paper is dry, you can leave your prints as complete compositions or use them in collage.

Variation: A product called Inkodye can be used to make fabric sun-sensitive. We haven’t played with it yet, but it’s on our summer list.


This project originally appeared in the summer 2014 issue of home | school | life, along with a handful of other outdoor projects created by our wonderful art columnist Amy Hood. (You can pick up a copy in the store if you missed this issue.)