When it comes to artistic endeavours in childhood, you might as well face up to the inevitable: there is going to be plenty of mess to go with your child’s great masterpieces. But there are a few practical ways to prepare yourself – and the household – for the occasion, as well as a palette of painterly tools to inspire hours of fun.
1. Doublecheck that all the paints at your child’s disposal are waterbased and definitely washable. There’s nothing worse than letting your child loose only to discover they’ve found their nanna’s oil paints to play with.
2. On a sunny day, send them outdoors – after all there’s plenty of inspiration in the golden autumnal leaves, the blue sky and the muddy puddles.
3. If it’s a wintery afternoon, turn the bathroom into their own artist’s studio. It makes cleaning up uber-simple!
4. If you can’t handle any mess at all, then check out a family session at a nearby gallery, or find out if there is a local playgroup where art activities are encouraged.
5. Have a notebook at the ready, so that if you are out and about and your child is suddenly inspired, they can express themselves on something other than your new Hermes Birkin.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
1. Washable poster paints – but remember that dark colours will still stain, so you should also invest in a long-sleeved, full-length apron for your child. We also love Paint Sticks.
2. Charcoal, chalk and pencils are all good, but avoid felt pens until your child is at least two, as your walls won’t respond quite as flexibly to such mediums.
3. Think about the potential in your food packaging before consigning it to the green council bin. Sit down with your child and join in as she will learn how to cut and stick more quickly by example rather than trial and error.
4. You don’t need to hang every picture up, but pick out a few worthy efforts. We love the My Little DaVinci Wooden Picture Frame for 50 Artworks that holds a3 or a4 prints with built-in storage – just display their latest masterpiece while keeping up to 49 others behind it! Farming them in fun card frames, filed into a portfolio case or uploading to Artkive or Canvsly are all great ways to perseve for the ones you want to cherish.
5. Use Play dough not plasticine. It’s less mucky, smells better and is easier for small hands to manipulate. Fimo is a smoother version for children 6+, or you can go organic, with Play Mais (3+). You can make your own with flour, salt, water and a little oil. When your child is over three, you could try air-drying modelling clay, though models will shape better if you use pipe cleaners as a frame to build on.