painting with kids

I talk a lot about how much I love doing art with the kids, so today I thought I would put together some ideas for painting with little ones! I've pretty much loved painting since I was old enough to hold a brush and our kids have followed suit. It's not uncommon for them to spend a good half a day engrossed in their painting. I still remember them being little and people would ask what they've been doing and Naomi would say "just working on my abstract art" in her adorable little toddler voice, it was the cutest! After 8 years of having little artists in the house, I thought I would share a few of the tips I've picked up for painting with the 10 and under crowd.

When the kids are going to paint, I put down a big oilcloth sheet under the table or their easel just to catch any paint drips. Someday, I hope to have a Kooning-worthy art studio, but for the time being we have carpet where our dining table is (seriously, never again), so putting down a drop cloth is a lifesaver and makes cleanup easier. We use 3 yards of this oilcloth fabric, but you can find it in most fabric stores, or even use an old tablecloth. To protect the kids' clothing, I just have them throw on these oversized white tees as painting shirts. And for quick clean ups of paint on little hands or chairs, I like having these wipes from costco on hand!

I tend to stick to acrylic and watercolors for the little ones. Some of our favorite paints are the basics and apple barrel paints, we have a lot of these and the kids will mix the colors to make the exact shades they want. I also really love the martha stewart acrylic paint, especially their metallics! For watercolors, I like the simply art watercolors that I can get in bulk packs on amazon, and also the kid made modern paints at Target stores. The older kids also use these faber castle watercolor pencils and these are my favorite washable paints for toddlers!

One of the best painting tips I read when the kids were little was to get them good quality painting paper. There is nothing like painting on office paper and having it shrivel up from the watercolors! We like this water color paper and these canvases. I also find the artist's loft canvases at Michael's stores and they often have 50% deals which I use to get the really big canvases or bulk packs. I'm also a big fan of saving cardboard for the little ones to paint on!

I like having a variety of paint brushes and sponges for the kids to experiment with. These martha stuart paint brushes and mala ones from Ikea are really great. Also the kids love using sea sponges and these round sponges to make backgrounds and textures and shapes. We use these plastic artist palettes for their paints. 

I am a huge fan of kids art hanging up around the house, but let's be honest, eventually their little paintings and drawings get worn down and start to fall apart. We tend to be really minimal when it comes to saving things, so we decided early on to archive their artwork digitally instead of saving boxes and boxes of dusty paper. So when their paintings are dry, I take photos or scan the artwork and have it printed in photo books. Like a coffee table book of kid art! What could be better?! Then we might hang it up for a month or so before recycling it. Sometimes we also repurpose their artwork by making bookmarks or cards, but for the most part, it's something we document and enjoy, and then get rid of. 

We love to use painting prompts during art time with the kids. Since we now have four little ones who are all painting, it's so much fun to come up with a theme and then see how everyone interprets it differently in their art. A simple way to do this is to have them all paint the same object, such as an apple or some flowers on the table. You can see how we painted foxes and jellyfish a few years back! We also do artist studies where we study specific artists and the kids will reproduce paintings or try new styles of art. I may blog more regularly about those in the future, but I've included an example from when we painted our own versions of Van Gogh's wheatfield with crows below. 

Really, the biggest tip I have for painting with kids is just to let loose and be creative! Happy painting!

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