Order within Borders- Art for All Ages

Many people feel that they are not at all artistic. Yet there are many things you can do to create artistic flourishes or decorations, on objects in your world, with a few simple household tools and very little artistic technique. If you can hammer in a nail, you could paint a primitive, and delightful, border design.

buren church
Dot Daisy Border

A border can provide structure to a loose, flowing design. It will frame the design which pleases the eyes’ sense of order. Not only that but a line or motif border can direct the viewer’s eyes to the rest of the design, whilst still allowing for “breathing room” – negative space around the design itself. This,  in particular, applies to primitive or folk art/ traditional art.



Beginners can easily create borders by combining a few basic strokes with dots made with the handle end of a brush dipped in paint, or press a series of dots with a Q-tip cotton bud, or a worn pencil eraser to form a four or five-petaled daisy.

Here are a few ideas:

Source: Jackie Shaw


  • Elongate the dots made form dipping the handle of a brush into oval shapes to make flower buds.
  • Place two dots of paint side by side, pulling each to a point, with a fine brush or brush handle, to form a heart. Use the chisel edge of a flat brush to make carefree straight lines. These irregular lines result in a more primitive look, less rigid and more free-flowing than lines carefully painted with a liner brush.
  • Children can begin to develop an appreciation of border art by dabbling decorative edges on photo frames or the cover of study books. Cover the books with plain paper or card stock and arm the kids with a q tip or paintbrush as a “dotting tool.”


  • Rule some lines in pencil as a guide and let them create patterns  in rows across the paper with Q-tips or brushes. You will be surprised as what they come up with. They are limited only by their imagination. And you can even incorporate apply a bit of mathematics at the same time, teaching division skills.


Something to remember when painting strokes and border designs is to aim for a flowing design. Otherwise, the rhythm of the design will appear disjointed and the eye will not flow smoothly from one section of the design to another.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Decorate an object with one colour and then add a solid, contrasting colour border design

_bjorn pettersenkubbestol

A solid contrast border colour can be further embellished with geometric shapes, dots, stripes or swirls.




As your confidence and ability grows, build up each row upon row, to form an intricate border designs, based on basic shapes and form such as can be seen in this preliminary sketch below.


Source: The Basics of Folk Art by J. Jansen


Norwegian Rosemaling
Os Rosemaling

geometric border


Rosemaling traditional art
Something to Ponder About

26 thoughts on “Order within Borders- Art for All Ages”

  1. Inspirational post! Interesting and positive. And for everyone. My mother suffers from dementia, and did not think she could do anything “artistic” anymore. But I bought her painting books for grown-ups, and she really enjoys it. Simple patterns and decorating things is a good way to spend time and still use your imagination – even if it is fading.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great saying to relate to the artistic journey!! And I do believe it is a journey! I certainly started with baby steps like this kind of exercise. Learning how to do the strokes, learning the structure of design, and how important rhythm is in respect of why a design works or doesn’t work.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Unhinged- for the delightful comment. I love that you are getting into craft. It is so relaxing, therapeutic and satisfying. It feels so great to create something pretty and it doesn’t have to be time consuming. 30 minutes is all you need. If you do paint up a border design and post about it, I would love to see it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel a great longing to get back to painting again. Have been away from it for the last 7 years. My hands shake more now but I have my table set up and palate paper handy. This may be a sign. I have all the books to practice the strokes. Those blue and white dishes are a serious favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marlene, it is wonderful therapy to paint or create something. I think older people recognize this and by all means, treat the post as a sign. If you start out with a small project, the addiction will kick in!!! The blue and white dishes have a simple border design but look so effective. They are in fact, Boleslawiec porcelain from Poland, and I posted about them here if you want to see/read more about it:
      Good luck and I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Share it in a post!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These are beautiful pieces, Amanda, and great tips for the artistically-challenged, such as myself. I’m more of a writer than a painter, but I desperately want to start creating my own artwork. Whenever I compose a story, I have visions of how the subject will look. I understand, for example, that shadows make a drawing more life-like, as well as the way colors blend together. I subscribe to “International Artist” magazine and have a few books on painting, including James Gurney’s “Color & Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter.” He’s the creator of the “Dinotopia” series.

    A few years ago I asked a friend if he’d do the artwork for my first novel. Although we didn’t draw up any kind of contract, I promised to pay him. I told him exactly what I wanted. He said he’d do some research and would get back with me, but he never did. I guess we both got busy and have lost touch since then. So I started thinking, ‘I should just do it myself.’ I don’t know what’s holding me back. We’re never too old to embark on something new!


    1. You are so right, we ARE never too old, and Writing and Painting are both creative pursuits, Alejandro. There is no reason why you can’t do both. I feel similarly as you in that I have more a writer’s bent, in a natural sense, so I feel I have to work a lot harder to produce art. But this is exactly why I am drawn to traditional or folk art. It is technical art and doesn’t have to be perfect. It is the “art of the people” – as opposed to fine art. Many folk artists progress to decorative or fine art in later stages of their journey. This beginner styled art exercise get you thinking creatively about art, what goes in to a good composition and by experimenting with small, simple projects, you achieve something quickly and learn about colour theory along the way. There is nothing to stop you doing your own artwork. You might be interested in the blind drawing and ‘sketching your own design’ exercises that I linked/posted about on my blog page as they help you get motivated to start creating. You will find a list of such posts here:
      I hope that helps you get started. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!


      1. Thank you, Amanda! You’ve just given me that final and much-needed plunge into the world of drawing and painting. Too many times in the past I’ve regretted not pursuing something. Even though I’m not old at age 53, I shouldn’t wait any longer to move forward with this. Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Awesome! I can’t wait to see what you come up with! You will have to post about it and link back to my blog so I can easily find It, should I miss the blog post in the wordpress feed. And 53 is most certainly not old!!! You will always get sympathy from a similarly aged person!!;-)


    1. That sounds like a perfect place to start
      border designs! I sometimes paint borders on cards as a warm up to painting something a bit more complicated. I have piles of white cardstock and paint up a border on the front covers. Always handy when you need a greeting card at short notice.


  4. If you do paint up a border design and post about it, I would love to see it! You will have to post about it and link back to my blog so I can easily find It, should I miss the blog post in the wordpress feed.

    Liked by 1 person

Everyone is important. What do you have to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.