How We Do Art in My House


I like to think of myself as a creative person, and when my little girl came along I hoped that I could pass that on to her. She’s a very avid colorer and she enjoys painting, too. A few of the moms I know were interested in how we go about painting in house without making a huge mess, so I thought I’d share our current system in the hope it can help someone else out who might be afraid of letting their kids paint inside.

painting with kids, crafty mama, crafty kids
The artist contemplates her work.

I should mention, first off, that my daughter is almost 2. She still uses a booster seat with straps, and that’s where she sits when she paints. Otherwise she’d be running around the house with painty hands, chasing after a cat or something. That’s the main piece of advice I have: if you can lock your kids up while they paint, so much the better.

The setup for painting is pretty simple and only takes a couple of minutes. First, clear off the table in front of the baby seat. (Your table’s never clear either, is it?) Get some newspaper, and unfold it so you’ve got at least a couple of layers of paper all across the table as far as the child can reach. I’ve never bothered taping it down or anything, but if your child is really wild you can do that for extra tabletop protection.

You’ll want to protect the floor, too. For that we use a piece of that plasticy material with the kind of felt backing that’s used for tablecloths. I just bought a yard at the fabric store (it’s in the home decor section) or you could use an actual tablecloth (your granny’s got one if you don’t). Put that under the kid’s chair.

Because my kiddo is little and can’t be trusted with large quantities of paint, I squirt or dab a little of each color onto a big plastic disposable plate. Then just grab some paper (one piece at a time, please), a wet paper towel, a smock or old T-shirt for your kid to wear and you’re ready to go. When she’s finished (about 10 minutes later), the papers get folded up so all the paint (and the paint-covered paper plate) is on the inside and the whole mess goes in the trash.

We love fingerpainting in my house. Well, the girl loves using a paintbrush, too, but that’s proven problematic in a couple of different ways. The first time she used a brush at home I gave her water to clean her brush with, and she tried to drink it. The second time, I didn’t give her water (heck, she’s going to mix the colors anyway), but she did insist on sticking the paintbrush in her ears. Repeatedly. With the painty side, no less. So we’re taking a break from brushes.

Here’s one of her recent masterpieces:

finger painting, painting with kids, crafty kids
One of my kiddo's fingerpaint mastepieces.

So there you have it. I hope this will inspire you to try painting with your kids if you haven’t already. And for those of you with bigger kids, I’d love to hear what you do to keep the mess to a minimum.

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