Thursday, 7 April 2016

7 Tips for Painting with Children and Coping with the Dreaded Mess of Art Time

Some people are all over the whole painting / crafting thing with kids, but for many, it's a living hell.

It's hard to find somewhere to set up. You cringe as the paint makes it's way onto clothing, floors, furniture and skin. You regret EVER letting glitter into your house and clean up is on par with cleaning the oven.

Although I like to paint and I love the fact that my children like to paint, making it happen can be a hard pill to swallow for me (for all the reasons above). Here are a few things that I've found make the whole process a little more enjoyable. Sometimes I even suggest painting to the kids instead of waiting for them to ask. Sometimes.

1) Buy a plastic table cloth from the $2 shop and cover your dining table, coffee table or kid's table, taping it to the underside. This will protect your table and stop you stressing about each paint drop that WILL hit the surface. You can wipe it down easily with a damp cloth when you're finished but it's also OK to just let it dry. Just note that dry paint (especially kids paints) will crack and fall off in time, so you can end up with flakes on the table or floor, but at least it's dry!

2) Get your kids a variety of brushes - some thick / fat brushes and a few smaller ones as well. Encourage them to start with the bigger brushes, especially when they're whipping up the traditional sky/ground landscape. This way they can cover more space more quickly, helping to keep them interested and within your time budget.

Suggest they only swap to the smaller brushes when they need to do the detail. Of course, this may not be necessary for an abstract piece, in which case you could be all over and done with in a few minutes.

3) Kids will instinctively use a lot of paint so be ready with water and some paper towel or an old cloth to help wash and dry them between sessions.

As kids get older and become more independent, it's easier to let them have their own palettes, rather than sharing their paints. Nothing's worse for an 8 year old artist in the depths of creation to see their 4 year old sibling pick up white paint with a dirty black paintbrush. I shudder just thinking about it.

4) Buy a large roll of paper (like the butcher-paper style roll you can get from IKEA). This way kids can create paintings as large or as small as they like without expense or fuss from you.

You can even (if you're feeling really game) tape a length of it to the tablecloth (that you've already taped to the table) and allow them to create something BIG. This is a good way to get kids to work together. For example, you could suggest they do a large jungle scene, or an underwater scene together. Or if they're like my kids, they can refuse to work together and fuel your wine habit. Either way.

5) Buy a couple of canvases for the kids to use. They will feel like a professional and, if you feel so inclined, you could easily display the painting when it's finished. Or you could gift it to a grandparent - they love that stuff!

6) Put on a smock or old clothes. Be sure to do this before you start, especially if you're squeezing paint out of tubes or bottles. Some paints wash out but many acrylic paints stain and if they're left to dry on clothing, you have close to zero chance of getting it out.

7) Keep all your painting stuff together in a box or basket. It's so much easier to set-up and pack-up when everything's in the one place. Hang paper paintings on line to dry (indoors if it's too blowy or wet outside) to reclaim your table. You might want to sit at it when you've poured your wine.

Do you have any tips for art and craft sanity?

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