Feb 5, 2009

Easel painting

As much as my family enjoys all the cutting and gluing and colouring and drawing stuff that we do, there's something incredibly creative and delightfuly open ended about big sloppy pots of brightly coloured paint. The kids light up when the paint pots come out, especially if they have a canvas that is bigger than they are! We don't have any proper kid easels or anything like that, so there are a number of hodge podge solutions to this and they seem to work well enough that I feel no need to go out and find a proper easel for them.
There are a few ways that we try to accomplish sloppy paint play with minimal paint on stuff it's not supposed to go on. The favourite is using the make shift outdoor painting area. We picked up a cheap iron wall decoration thing from Goodwill that I think must have been used to hold glass containers with candles in at some point in it's life. It's had somewhat of a social demotion going from what I can only imagine was a gloriously classy diningroom wall to nailed to our fence and made to hold pots of kid paint. It works a treat though. We also picked up some cheap big bits of chipboard and secured them to the fence at the top with string tied to hooks that were screwed in. This means that we can take them in when it rains (but we've forgotten a few times and left them out and they still seem ok). Strips of butcher's block paper get covered in paint by the kids and then left to dry in the garage. It's all lovely and messy and fun. I strongly suggest giving it a go.
Of course, sometimes the weather is not so accomodating, or it's the depths of winter and it gets dark early, so in that situation we have resorted to using sheets of cardboard taped to the back of kitchen chairs and a towel on the floor.
It might seem silly to go to such lengths to let the kids paint when they want to, but I can't help myself, because the artwork that comes out of these experiences is just so lovely and full of energy and imagination. The pictures below were painted by my four year old.

If you've visited my blog before then you probably have noticed that the kitchen, where a lot of the crafting takes place, is covered in artwork by the kids, but it does make it's way into all the rooms in the house, even our bedroom. I really do love it that much. Part of me hopes that the kids will never totally give up the abstract types of pictures they make at this age. There's something very special about them.

When we have a huge number of kids then we get out the old bedsheets and they paint them on the floor or strung up on the outside of the house. You need to weight the bottom of the sheet out away from the wall, so that you don't end up with paint soaking through onto the wall, although with kid paint it comes off easily with a hose.
We always mix the store bought paint with a squirt of dish soap and an extra drop of water to make it go further and it also makes it easier to wash out of clothing too. After the fun has been had painting the bedsheet then you can just throw it in the washing machine and paint it again some other time.
I have to say that although we don't have proper easels, the school style no spill paint pots are something I would not be without. The older kids are fine with old yoghurt pots, but the two year olds really need that anti-spill design because I like them to be able to paint with minimal adult intervention and if one child tries to grab a pot of paint from another at any point then no one ends up wearing it, which is nice.
Often covering the table in butcher's block paper is enough to keep them happy too. We got our roll from Costco well over a year ago, but when it started running low we couldn't find any more there. Smart & Final stocks different widths and weights of butcher's block paper rolls though and they all hover at around $30, which is a bargain for well over a year's worth of paper (probably much longer if you don't have a bazillion children using it every other day like we do).

Messy sloppy paint is by far the best fun to have when you don't have a specific craft lined up! The kids get so much more of a kick out of it than they do from those teeny little water colour boxes.


tracey (aka rainbowmummy) said...

Lovely post-I see I have some catching up to do (this happened before, your new posts were not showing up, damn you to hell computer!)

Any way I love how much you love all this, such energy!

Egg had a home visiting teacher (the only thing I got from her was a clean house on as I would clean before she came) any way she painted with Egg, he wanted to go c c c crazy with the paints (sensory issued kid wants to go cccrazy you let him) but no she made him do one hand print per sheet of paper, WTF? It was like a factory!

I gotta ask do you work? I know I don't know you very well, but I have to say you are amazing with the kids crafty stuff. I would have been happy for someone like you to come round for an hour and "work" with Egg.

Now I am off to catch up :0)

tracey (aka rainbowmummy) said...

Yay! All caught up now, sorry for the gazillion comments.

P4-810 said...

Phew! i have just spent over an hour reading through all your blog entries (i just subscribed to the RSS feed - i think there may be older posts i haven't seen yet) and i'm loving it. the paintings in the last blog are aceness. you remember kevin who used to live in flat 28 with me back in the stargang? well he was a man who knew his art and he always used to say that kids know how to paint and we un-learn them in school. he'd probably pay money for what your two have come up with :o)

the inauguration rocket was something else. you are the coolest parents in the whole world ever, fact.

Hope all's well in boardland.


Anonymous said...

Dear wizards,

I've been reading your blog for a couple of weeks. It's inspiring. I'm a friend of Miss Smiths and it was via her blog that I found yours.

I have a 21 month old at home and I'm really keen to venture into some craft activities with him. I think your blog could become a regular source of ideas and inspiration. It's time for us to break out of the rut of books and trains....

Question: Can you send/post a photo of the no-spill paint containers. I'd like to find some.

Thanks for your great blog.
Diane (from Australia)

Unknown said...

Hey! Wow. I love this post! Great ideas, great art & a great lot of fun looks to have been had :)

Now, we have a *lot* of art supplies available at all times for the kids - just not the messy goopy paint sort! But as i've just been rereading 'How to Raise an Amazing Child (the Montessori Way)' by Tim Seldin I've been inspired to set up an art area where the children really can paint and do goopy stuff as well. We *have* had 2 easels in the past but they have both passed-on ie. got so wet & dirty & loved that they collapsed & had to go to the big easel shop in the sky ;)

So I love the idea of some chipboard that can go on the fence outside & store flat somewhere when the weather isn't good! What a smart cookie you are :)

Lindsey said...

Mogfather! I remember Kev. He was lovely. You still see him?

Miss Smith's mate: The ones we have are from early childhood resources. I love them because the flip top lids are attached and so can't be lost. They come in a pack of ten colours with the name of the colour written in that colour on the sides in both Spanish and English. You can get mini ones too, which might be nicer for one set of teeny hands. We have the regular size ones. Here's a linky.

Amber, I'm not at all versed in the ways of Montessori. I feel like I should do some reading if it's about child led learning. I'll start off by reading more of your site.

Thanks for the lovely comments all of you! Gloopy paint for the win!

Unknown said...

Montessori is *all* about the child leading. It's about observing your child & preparing the environment to help them but actually letting them do & think & learn *for themselves*. Very cool :)

Anonymous said...

Oh I love your outdoor painting set up... beautiful as well as functional! And I am totally stealing the paintings cut to fit in the squares on the doors!!!

P4-810 said...

I wish I was still in touch with Kev, he was a legend. Haven't seen him for years. I'm sure he'll turn up eventually. I should probably googlinate him, he's probably head of creative design at some high-flying architectural company by now.

Rebecca said...

Wow! Great ideas! I just found your blog and have to say I lOVE your easel idea! That is one pricey gift I have wanted but can't bring myself to buy and I love DIY projects. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I love the old bed sheet canvas idea...I have been wanting to let this kids have a big area to paint but didn't want to spend all that money on paper I don't have room to keep so I love the idea of being able to just go out and paint it and then bring it in and wash it! excellent!!! you are so creative and I just love your entire blog..I read the entire thing in one sitting last night lol! it's that addictive!

rindu said...

Kids imagination is honest,Im suprise to see they have good creation.
To see their painting activity is make us happy.

rindu said...

How amazing creation,kids has brave and honest feeling to reflect their mind.
Im happy to see their activity on painting..

Shaper of Little Souls said...

Where do you get the no spill paint cups?

Jeanine said...

You, your childrens art, and your blog are such a wonder to explore. Many many heartfelt thanks for sharing all of your lovely clever and creative experience with us here--we are all too lucky! You're amazing! Thank you again, from Canada ;)