My First Painting

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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!

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“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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.  

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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.  

Use them, don't chuck them

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Lets be honest with each other. Our kids can do A LOT of artwork. They produce artwork like mummy mice produce baby mice. They come back from nursery with arm full of artwork and if, like me, you do a lot of art at home, you have piles of the stuff at home. There is mummy guilt about needing to keep them and treasure them in an art portfolio to show them when they are older. My Dad used to even get them framed, to the extent that we have mounds of framed pieces collecting dust, abandoned in one of the corners of their loft. A bit like 'Sugarlump and the unicorn' by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks. If you haven't read it, it's quite fun. And it rhymes so that is always a winner in the Patronus house.

Anyway, I confess there have been occasions when I have thrown nursery artwork straight into the bin. There were a few times I was given a piece of A4 with, one pen line drawn on it... I wish I was kidding. Equally, having said this, some pieces that Patronus A does, I do keep. Her first proper hand print artwork that she used to be obsessed with when she was 2. Everything was about painting her hands at that stage. Her first drawing of a person, a sun, a spider. Things like that. However, Patronus A loves to paint. She could paint, paint, paint all day long. So we have lots of piles of masterpieces. So while deciding what to do with them in one of my clear outs, this is when I decided to make use of them. 

I know snail mail, is not often used anymore, but there is nothing more warming then receiving a hand written letter through the door. Does that make me sound old?! Maybe, but it shows that the person sending it has spent just that little bit longer thinking about you.  Friends and relatives love getting post from the kids. It turns them all gooey like not much else does. Especially my own siblings, it's quite cute really. So, we began to use the artwork Patronus A did to make birthday cards, thank you cards, thinking of you cards, any cards really! 

Some of the activities shared on the blog are quite attractive and look good being displayed. After weeks and months though, you may want to replace them with new pieces and this is when I normally recreate them into cards. Below are just a few examples of this. 

The hearts here have been cut from our 'Conkerific Rolling' artwork with a heart paper cutter.

The hearts here have been cut from our 'Conkerific Rolling' artwork with a heart paper cutter.

We have a heart stamp paper cutter so the hearts above and below have been cut using that. Simple, but effective. 

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Likewise below, we have used an piece of artwork that we used with the salad spinner in, 'Negative Space Splatter', to create another piece of poster artwork. 

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Cards and artwork like these are more meaningful then shop bought cards. They last longer then cards which will be throw away in a few weeks and it is better for the environment. It's dressed up recycling. So, use them, don't chuck them!

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