Apr 9, 2010

Cheapo reusable canvas for outdoor painting

The kids love painting. Reeeeeally love it. I've blogged about our painting outdoors set up before here, and about more easel painting here, but there's always been this feeling that we're going through paper faster than I'd like, and although anything we don't keep goes in the recycling, I've still wanted to make some kind of wash down surface for a while.

If I owned my own house then I'd probably go loopy and paint one of the outside walls white and let them have at it, but we rent, and so sanity prevails, well, most of the time.

Ideally having a couple of large artist's canvases would be the solution, but well the size that I would want them to be would cost a bit too much for my liking. Yesterday I figured we have this princess play tent thing, why not just cover one side of it in what was left of a tin of white latex primer and see if that worked. It really needs another coat to totally cover princess Aurora, but that'll have to wait until I have more primer.

My first thought was to paint the whole thing so that we had four canvases that four kids could stand around and paint, but I only had enough of the primer left to do one side.

It was windy that afternoon, so I folded it up and clamped it onto our fence for the kids to paint on. We painted lots of other stuff yesterday and today, but I'll post about that later or this post will end up longer than I am tall.

The paint we use is just regular kiddy paint, but mixed with a dash of dish soap, so that it washes out of stuff easier. Adding a little bit of water also makes it go further.

It hosed off easily, and the kids could paint it again. It worked so well that I'm wondering if I should cut the four sides of the tent apart and coat each one with primer, so we have four hunormous canvases that can be hosed down and used again. It ain't pretty, but it does the job.

If you want pretty then maybe you can find some large ugly paintings at a thrift store to slap primer over, or make your own from 2X4 and old bed sheets. We paint old bed sheets all the time, but usually flat on the floor, or put up like tents with string and pvc pipe poles.

A whopping big bit of plexiglass would be tremendous fun to paint on too, like the one they have at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. The kids can clean that with window squeegies. Aw man, now I want to buy plexiglass.

If you have an old tent that you are happy to just have the kids play with, then that would be a lot of fun! Imagine having a whole den to paint and then hose off and paint again another day!

Me and two of my mates spray painted an ancient two man tent in 1995 to go to the Glastonbury music festival. Yes, three of us slept in a two man tent, with an open tin of golden syrup we later found out (luckily it was a good weather year and we could all sleep under the stars for the rest of the festival, because that Syrup was not going to be cleaned up easily!)

The kids do end up making a hell of a mess painting, but between you and me, I really love finding a blob of dried on paint in a place that it doesn't belong. It says "someone had fun here".


Anonymous said...

I love it! You're such a fun mom. You always remind me to just chill out a little more.

tracey (aka rainbowmummy) said...

"....somebody had fun here". I like that. Though I am working with Egg who thinks paint should be smeared up to the shoulders. It's fun, but come on kid, mum ain't got the energy for that every time :P

Anyway, I think this is cool, and I am sure easy to copy on the cheap..http://uk.specialneedstoys.com/art/271-see-thru-easel.html

Unknown said...

I love your creative and frugal alternative to large canvasses. And painting the feet! That photo is priceless. Just priceless.

You are such a good mom to let them get messy.

Teacher Tom said...

I was just standing at our local Goodwill eying all those $5 canvases with ugly paintings on them last week, this while hunting for t-shirts to emblazon with plastic bags . . .

Thanks for the dish soap tip!

Princess_Sunshine said...

I would leave it together, get more white, paint all four sides and if its windy use tent pegs and then they can crawl into their paintings! Really great idea. I use the same kind of paint with my niece and when it's warm enough we lie out a big white sheet and she can paint her hands and feet and walk all over it, then when we're done she can jump in the pool and the sheet goes in the laundry, washes out perfectly when you use the dishsoap trick:)

Jackie said...

WOW! I am so excited to do this. Thanks for sharing this fabulous idea. My three-year-old daughter is going to LOVE painting outside.

Michele @ The Hills are Alive said...

do you have glass sliding door - we have painted on that and also shaving cream (with the kids and mess on the outside) hoses/wipes right off and if they want to keep a copy of a special pic then press a sheet of paper against the painted glass door and voila

Melinda said...

I love this - what a creative thing to do and so fun for mum and kiddos! Will be doing the same thing with something this summer I'm sure - thanks for the fabulous idea!

Lindsey said...

RM: Holy Moly $400 for that perspex in a wooden frame!?! Wow! We've got plans to make a perspex paint area in the yard, but way way on the cheap, so I'll post about that when it's all done. Oh and Egg ain't alone in his appreciation of the "paint up to your armpits" look ;)

Princess Sunshine: I think I am going to do the other four sides of the tent. It should only take a smallish pot of primer I reckon. I like the idea of using tent pegs to anchor it (it gets windy a lot here)

Michele: No glass doors I'm afraid. Hopefully we can pull together the perspex plan fairly cheaply though.

Jana said...

Love this idea-you are such a good mom. I have a much harder time with the mess. Your kids are sure lucky!