Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Painting on a Grand Scale

I am hoping to make BIG paintings a regular part of my daughter's lives, partly for the memories they create, partly because they make for some great art, but mostly because they are so darn FUN!
As it is, painting is always encouraged in our home; Ava (1) is happy to paint with whatever on whatever at any time, but I think that Eden (3) was getting frustrated with painting on a small-ish scale, or otherwise painting on paper. We had done some canvas painting before, and painting on hardboards, but I thought it was time to change it up.

Buying pre-framed and primed canvas can be pricey, especially large ones, so I was super excited when I found ours at the Reject Shop for $18 for a 75cm x 100cm canvas. We got three (one for each set of grandparents and one to keep).
We used a bit of watered down poster paint/tempera paint in the three colours she chose: I only watered it down so that it was a more runny consistency which makes it easier for little artists to spread across big areas.
We decided three colours would be the limit as any more than that, and her art (somehow) ends up as a big brown-beige soupy mess. As the paint was water-based, I didn't bother protecting the garage door or the driveway – a wipe of a sponge or a spray from the pressure-cleaner was sufficient to clean up any stray splotches of paint.
Once Eden was dressed in her 'messy play' gear, we leaned the canvases up against the garage door and she got to work smearing, sweeping and smushing the paint across her triptych.

Woo Hoo! Getting fancy with TWO brushes at once!

When she was done, we left them in the portico to dry out a bit before moving them into the garage. Eden has decided she would like to add to her artworks before she's actually finished with them, so they're hibernating in the garage until inspiration strikes her again, and when it does I'll post the results.

If you are thinking of trying this out, here's a few basic tips which I hope will help:
  • It's going to get messy, so it's best done outside if possible.
  • Take precautions so that when your child is ready to paint, you don't have to fret about things getting dirty. Plus, your child won't enjoy it if they sense you're waiting to pounce at the first sign of stray paint. Use washable, water-based non-toxic paint, and protect surfaces with a tarp, or dropcloth, or in a pinch you could use an opened out garbage bag.
  • Don't sweat the mess: kids are washable! Let them have fun, and yes, let them get dirty.
  • Use lots of paint, so your tot can really get into it!
  • Get some big brushes with long handles, preferably at least one brush per colour. The long handles help your child to stand back from the canvas and to make those big, sweeping strokes which kids (and adults) love to make. Also, they help your child to reach higher up the canvas.
  • Do as much clean up as possible on-site: it helps to confine messy activities to one spot, and no-one wants to have paint splodges traipsed all over their home!
    I keep a bucket of warm soapy water nearby with a towel, washcloth and a change of clothes. As soon as Eden is done painting she takes off her dirty clothes, washes herself with the cloth and gets dressed in fresh gear, all within a few meters of the paint site. Believe me, it's a sanity-saver!
I hope you'll give this a try at home, and I'm looking forward to sharing Eden's art with you all when she decides it's done!
Thanks for reading! ~ L.

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