Making a Free Little Library art piece is easy as pie – even kiddos would love doing this! Haven’t heard of Free Little Libraries (FLLs) before? Well let me enlighten you!
Free Little Libraries are in communities all over the globe – a tiny lending library where people drop off a couple books and pick up something to read, giving books a new lease on life – all for free!
There are over 150,000 libraries in 120 countries – with 300 million books shared. If you’re a reader, go to their website by tapping on their logo and check the map for one near you. They also have an app with the map in it – read on to find out why that’ll be helpful to me all summer!
My local FLL
At a park where I go walking on occasion, there’s a library (below) run by a local Scout troop. I’ve seen it for a long time and, well, I keep telling myself I’ll make a little something to display instead of just the books I usually leave. So it’s time to stop mulling it over and DO it!
I’ve been checking the box for a little while to see how often it gets really full or really empty, to see if this is even a good candidate to add some art. It’s hit or miss, sometimes super full and messily stacked full of books, other times fairly empty. Maybe a little art will bring more people to visit it and exchange books and art both!
If it’s about books, why am I making art??
Especially while there are also Free Little Art Galleries (FLAGs) out there! What am I thinking, right? Well – there aren’t nearly as many FLAGs out there as there are FLLs. (I do have one in my town, and I’ll be sharing my adventure there on Saturday!) But I think those who love the libraries will also love art….who wouldn’t be delighted by finding a little drawing or painting when they go to get a book?
The libraries are large enough that they can have tiny easels in the empty space in front of the books – so why not see if we can get more people making art?
Tutorial: Create a “Free Little Library” art piece
Don’t be intimidated by my little framed art piece! Make something in your own style, whatever medium you love. I’m hoping to see some kiddo art that I can take home when I deliver a new piece…and I’ll share it when I do!
Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!
Step 1: gather up supplies
Use whatever medium you like! Crayons, pencils, markers, paints – and choose something to create ON. I recommend probably going for something a little sturdy; you could mount a lighter paper onto cardboard to make it a little heftier. Remember someone may be picking it up and taking it home while they’re walking the neighborhood, so don’t make it so delicate that it could get crushed or fall apart.
Step 2: choose subject matter
Anything goes! An abstract, a flower, a stamped image, whatever you want! If you live in a particular area maybe consider drawing a local landmark, tree, or flower that people would recognize. I chose 2 pieces for the Scouts’ library, the second is a dinosaur drawing since I figured that might appeal to them! (Usually the name of the group or persons organizing the library are posted on the library itself.) Maybe even book-themed art if you create something at a library! (that light bulb just clicked in my own brain as I typed it!)
Step 3: create and protect
Make your piece, and put your best foot forward. Create something that’ll make a stranger smile!
Protect it if necessary; again, don’t make something so delicate and precious that you’re stressed over keeping it in perfect condition. Mounting it on cardboard is often enough.
Here’s what I’d recommend for fixative sprays:
- For colored pencil, graphite, pastel, other dry media: Delacroix Fixatif by Sennelier
- For gouache: Krylong Clear Coat It WILL change the depth and color of gouache; however given the rigors it may undergo and the simple project this is for, it’s worth it.
- I don’t spray watercolor; but you may want to try some Clear Coat with watercolor marker since it is usually highly reactive – try it first on a scratch piece of the same paper and same brand of markers that you’ll use for the final project and make sure it works.
Then deliver your art! Be kind to book readers and don’t put so much art in the box that they can’t get to the books. If it’s full, come back another day!
No easels are required but can be helpful to make it look like a display rather than someone accidentally leaving something in the box. A little art patron figure is fun, but just know it’ll likely get lost, picked up by a dog or squirrel…..don’t leave anything you would cry over if it was disrespected by a passing critter.
Leave the box better than you found it. If it needs tidying, take a moment to do that! If it’s dirty, take a paper towel and give it a nice dusting inside. And be sure to post on Facebook so your local friends know to stop by; if the box needs more books, post a plea for more!
Step 4: deliver
It’s time to deliver your art! Here’s a few more tips to think about:
- Be kind to book readers and don’t put so much art in the box that they can’t get to the books. If it’s full, come back another day.
- No easels are required but can be helpful to make it look like a display rather than someone accidentally leaving something in the library.
- A little art patron figure is fun, but just know it’ll likely get lost, picked up by a dog or squirrel…..don’t leave anything (art or otherwise) that you would cry over if it was disrespected by a passing critter or young child.
- If there’s room, leave some white boards inside for others to make art on! They might have pencils or crayons to work with but nothing sturdy. What to use? How about the white hard back cover of a pad of watercolor paper? Chop it down to size for tiny art and leave a sticky note inviting people to take one to make art!
- Leave the library better than you found it. If it needs tidying, take a moment to do that! If it’s dirty, take a paper towel and give it a nice dusting inside.
- Be sure to post on Facebook so your local friends know to stop by; if the box needs more books, post a plea for more!
Will you try this?
Do yourself a favor and don’t be like me: don’t put it off! I’ve thought about this for soooo long, and it was so fun to put my first pieces out there. I’m now going to keep a little shoebox in the car with extra drawings and paintings, and as I travel around doing plein air all spring and summer, I’ll look for Free Little Libraries and Free Little Art Galleries to drop some off. This should be fun!
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- Holbein Gouache set 18 colors
- Airtight palette
- Jack Richeson brush set for gouache
- Mini canvases
- Mini easels
- Recommended fixatives:
- For colored pencil, graphite, pastel, other dry media:Delacroix Fixatif by Sennelier
- For gouache: Clear Coat It WILL change the depth and color a bit; however given the rigors it may undergo, it’s worth it. I don’t spray watercolor; but with watercolor marker you may want to try some Clear Coat since it is usually highly reactive – try it first on a scratch piece of the same paper and same brand of markers that you’ll be using.
This is such a great idea!!
I love this idea, Sandy! These free little libraries enrich so many neighborhoods and you’re adding art is splendid! Great advice in your post!