Despite loving doing anything creative with my kids, I soon realised once I had had my first that actually the mess, tended to make me slightly anxious. I had always thought of myself as being pretty laid back and relaxed with mess.
Then I got married and had kids.
And well, it turns out in no way am I relaxed about it. I like the kids to tidy as they play and generally if Daddy Patronus has been looking after them I near have an aneurysm when I see every toy that we own spread across every inch of carpet.
Where am I going with this?
When I had Patronus A, I didn't really know much about children. I didn't really know when they could start doing the creative stuff I loved to do. We did a lot of drawing and playdoh but I didn't introduce paint until later then I could have. Mess had something to do with this. The thought of paint splatter on the walls and carpet sent shudders through me. However, the older she got the more I pre-prepared the activities we did. That meant I could limit and contain the mess and more importantly control the creative environment in a way that kept me calm. As time went on the process got easier. the more relaxed I became, the more fun we began to have.
Now we do painting at least once a week!
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou
Generally we will paint on a non-nursery day and when Patronus B is napping. This week however we did it when Patronus B was awake. For those who don't know Patronus B, she is 14.5 months and has THE WORST case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) I have ever witnessed. She needs to be in the excitement at all times and God forbid she might be not included, all hell breaks loose. So she saw Patronus A painting and INSISTED on coming to sit on my lap so she could watch. And then watching led to her grabbing a paint brush and that is where her painting journey began.
I stripped her off into her wife beater onesie and just let her explore. It was so interesting watching her! I got such a kick out of seeing her explore creatively. She did three pieces in one sitting and when I decided it was time to 'close shop', she full on lost it and had a screaming fit. Turns out she loves painting. At 14 months.
Her Creative Process
As I said, it was really fun to see how her brain was working when learning a new skill.
1. The first one, below. She really enjoyed the process of putting her paintbrush into different colours each time and watching how they looked when she made contact with the black card.
2. The painting below was her 2nd. It is really expressive and you can see she was experimenting with how it looks with the movement of the paintbrush on paper. The effect is like spider legs or sun rays.
3. Below is her 3rd and last painting, again which I found fascinating. She had covered having fun with the different colours of the 1st and the arm movements of the 2nd. The 3rd one she discovered that if she made the same arm movement then she could actually cover large expanses of the paper in a left, right, left right movement, from one side of the paper to another.
This whole process, brought me back to remembering to allow your children to experiment in this way. It is called, 'process art'. It is so important for children to be allowed to do this. It allows them to develop their own creative confidence, to experiment, think outside the box, to make their own decisions and it helps them make sense of the world around them. It means, that the 'doing' is more important then the end product.
“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” – Mary Lou Cook
It's ok to hate mess. If you plan ahead for activities like these you can remain in control of that. Do it in the kitchen or the bathroom if you are worried about carpets. Get splat mats that you can lie on top of the floor and PVC tablecloths for tables and surfaces. Get your children naked or cover them in overalls. Have wet wipes or a bowl of warm soapy water on hand. If you are in control and relaxed then your kids will be able to relax and have fun too.
The moral of the story is that it doesn't have to be stressful and messy. Your kids will love creating memories and artwork. They'll learn really important skills that they will use throughout their play and not just in art. It is not enough to assume that they do 'art' at school or nursery. Certainly in Primary Schools it is deemed not important and they'll have an art class every two weeks. If they have one every week, they are one of the lucky ones.
Being creative doesn't have to be a specific activity. When someone tells me they aren't creative, I get so frustrated. EVERYONE can be creative. A child doesn't need to be told to do a particular activity. Put in front of them paint and paper and they'll paint with their fingers. Put in front of them playdoh and a plate and they'll make a feast. Don't limit the young, they'll teach us a thing or two. Just give them the platform.