I will always remember the day my 2 year old wanted to do some painting.
Being a ‘good’ mother I had many different art materials on hand and dutifully set up the easel, papered it, smocked him up, collected the muffin tin we were using as a paint tray, gathered the brushes, squeezed out 4 beautiful brightly coloured paints, set up a water pot to wash the brushes, placed paper on the floor in case of paint spills, put the dog outside so he wouldn’t get painted by accident…now…Henry?
By the time I had prepared the area my darling son could not have been less interested in painting. After some prompting he walked up to the easel, dipped a brush in a colour and smeared it a few times across the paper, then walked away to some other more engaging activity.
I couldn’t believe it as 15 minutes of preparation, not to mention wasted paint, and 15 minutes packing up was all for nothing!
Henry had tried to grab at brushes and paint while I was setting up, however ‘I’ was not ready yet…Henry had tried to use his fingers in the paint “Oh no sweetie use the brush” I said…Henry splodged the brush into each colour without washing “Oh no” I said!
Well I learned a lesson that day…make it quick, easy and accessible, and strike while the iron is hot. I learned that the value of creating art is in the exploration and in the moment.
Henry had his moment, and that did not coincide with the moment that I ‘created’ for him. I made it too hard and the wait too long and he lost interest. If I’d been better equipped to go with the flow, his experience would have been everything he hoped for and everything I had hoped for.
So what went wrong and what can you learn?
- Do yourself a favour and grab some resealable paint pots (any plastic container will do).
- Only have a small amount of paint in the bottom so that the brush does not getcompletely covered in paint.
- Have one brush per colour – limit to 3 colours only.
- Do not expect a young child to understand washing the brush between colours!
- Allow the use of fingers – it’s fun and feels great!
- If you can keep a smock, pre-papered easel and floor covering handy to save time.
Most importantly remember that a young child’s muse flits in and flits out with gay abandon, and watching as they delight in the art adventure whether it lasts 3 minutes or 13 minutes is all part of experimenting and learning.
What else did I learn that day? That parents don’t need to get everything right…Henry was not deterred by his almost painting experience and went on to have many paint filled messy adventures!