Thursday, May 01, 2008

Kids' Art — by Guest Mom Allysha

My daughter. . .

We do a lot of drawing at our house. I don't think a day goes by that the kitchen table isn't covered in paper, pens, pencils, crayons, and markers. Despite the cluttered aura of my table, I really enjoy seeing what my kids come up with as they experiment with different ideas.

I have this idea that I want my kids to be able to come to a blank piece of paper unfettered by any sort of convention. They will get more technical instructions as they start school, which is fine. But I want them to learn to trust their own artistic instincts first. And so I buy paper by the box (hooray, Costco) and let them go at it.

. . . and her art.

Here are a few basic tips I use for managing my kids' art:

~ I have plastic containers for crayons and markers. It's much easier to get everything cleaned up when they don't have to be placed row-by-row into a box.

~ Maybe twice a year I sort through my stash to find the markers that don't work and the crayons that are too small, and replace them. Back-to-school sales are a prime time to stock up. And you can recycle those too-small crayons. Gabby posted about it here.

~ For painting I usually have my kids stick with watercolors, although I do have some cheap acrylic paints they can use once in awhile. If I'm feeling extravagant, I buy little canvas boards for them to paint on.

~ We use slightly over-sized t-shirts as smocks — easy on, easy off, easy to throw them in the wash (There. Did you like that little rhyme?)

~I also always use a flat-bottomed mug or bowl for their rinsing water because it helps prevent spills.

~ I like to have some heavier paper on hand for painting (some card stock or actual watercolor paper cut into smaller sheets) and some colored craft paper for special projects.

~ And of course, have a place to display the art work! A bulletin board works great. And the fridge is always an option!

~ Also, be reasonable. Don't even attempt to save everything. Though it's tempting when your child's unique way of looking at the world begins to emerge. But unless you plan to a) only let your children paint masterpieces or b) wallpaper your kitchen in 8.5 x 11 paper drawings, then throw most of it away.

~ I have a file folder for each child where I keep their very best stuff, and they each have a place in their room for the drawings they want to keep. But most of it either gets tossed or gets re-used (we try to draw on both sides of the paper).

But really, you don't need anything fancy at all in order for your kids to create their own art. My girls have spent countless hours drawing to their hearts content with a simple spiral notebook and a pen or pencil.

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Blogger pve design said...

My daughter had hung many current pop posters and it was very scary for her Mom, (me) but I gave her a large sheet of nice watercolor paper and she painted a lovely work of Art, very wonderful for her Mom, (me) to see and she took down the posters to make her own Art Gallery! Original art reigns!

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 3:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Cafe Johnsonia said...

You totally inspired me start letting Lilly do watercolors after she painted with your girls. It's her favorite thing to do now. I started buying packs of poster board and letting her paint all over one side. We let it dry and then she paints the next side the next day. (Usually we use poster paints or finger paints for the pb's.)

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Mom in Mendon said...

Your daughter's drawing/painting is FABULOUS!

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kate said...

My three are still young enough that I'm not too tempted to save every art project (the oldest is three, but the twins are only 18 months and crayons still seem to spend more time in their mouths than on paper). BUT I once read a great suggestion from a mom who hated to throw away the scribbles (since each one can be unique and special). She took digital photos of anything that she couldn't save but hated to throw away. Then she just kept a catalog of them on CD. Maybe she'll throw the CD out some day, but for now she can hoard all the precious drawings she wants

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 8:07:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

That's a great picture! Looks like you have a budding artist in your house!

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 9:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger suzanne said...

"I have this idea that I want my kids to be able to come to a blank piece of paper unfettered by any sort of convention...I want them to learn to trust their own artistic instincts first."

What a great gift to your kids!! So much of the creative process we experience as adults is linked to shutting out the 'you can'ts' and 'you shouldn'ts' and the 'don't be too differents'.

To give kids the confidence and habit of exploring and trusting their own artistic instincts first is to give them a gift of personal fulfillment and plain old fun that is sure to last them well into their adult lives.

I, for one, am going to adopt your approach with my soon-to-be-born son, when the time comes. Thanks for the inspiration!

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 9:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jen said...

I love this post! I love that you are practical and so very reasonable in your approach to your children's art...and I love that you just validated my throwing away 90% of my children's art!!! I always feel guilty, though I keep their best stuff (and the stuff that show drawing milestones, like the first stick person, the first person with a face, etc!)

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 10:10:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Autumn said...

I LOVE her picture!!! So cute.

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 10:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger whit. ing. said...

A few of my ideas:

For a smock, use a big T-shirt, but cut it straight down the back. Then secure it with safety pins. Then you don't have to have a messy shirt go over their heads. You just undo the safety pins and slip it off their arms.

For displaying, I hung a Deka wire curtain rod (from IKEA) on the wall in our play room. It is within reach of my son. There are no curtains, just art work on the clips.

Friday, May 2, 2008 at 10:41:00 AM EDT  
Blogger mudder17 said...

First, your daughter is adorable! Second, I've started doing some of your suggestions and I have to admit, they get the creative juices flowing with my daughter much better when she doesn't have to search for stuff or keep things neat. She works on the table, on the floor, or on her art table, so stuff does tend to be scattered everywhere. If you have any hints for keeping her (and the supplies) all in one location, I'm all ears!

Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 10:20:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Angela said...

I have been scanning in my daughters art and posting it on my blog. My family loves seeing it and it will be on my blog for her to see in years to come--she also gets to hear how proud I was when she drew it, my comments, as well as other family member comments.
Here is one of my posts:

Monday, May 12, 2008 at 10:07:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Terresa said...

This is beautiful art. Plain and simple, honest and delightful.

Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 10:44:00 PM EDT  

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