1. Protect their clothes and surrounding areas. I take off Greta’s clothes and let her wear one of my many painting shirts. Also, wherever you decide to set up shop, make sure to lay down newspaper, dropcloths, a plastic tablecloth–something that will allow you to relax about your child painting. Freaking out over splattered paint kinda puts a damper on the whole activity.
2. Turn the canvas often. Even I do this as an artist, but it is especially important for little ones who tend to focus their efforts on whatever is right in front of their face. I turn the canvas every few minutes for Greta so she has a clean/new area to work and it adds a lot of interest to her painting.
3. Help them dip their brush in water frequently. Greta uses my acrylics, and she can get frustrated when the paint is dryer on the brush and doesn’t go on as smooth. Sometimes “dry-brushing” is a great effect in art, but for kids–using more water not only keeps their hands moving freely, but also will use less paint. (Bonus tip: You can pick up mistinted paint test pots at the hardware store for 50 cents for even cheaper paint for your child).
4. Let things dry in between. This is such an important thing to keep in mind to make sure (insert child’s name here)’s painting doesn’t get muddy brown or lose vibrancy. Let each layer dry before coming back and working on it more. Luckily, (I guess) Greta usually gets bored after about 30 minutes of painting and is ready for the next activity. So we’ll go play with her trains or sort the laundry and have lunch and then come back to her painting later in the day or even the next day. Then, the colors won’t mix together without your permission.
5. As a sort of addendum to number 4–Provide colors that work well together for each layer. Setting out greens, yellows and blues at a time and then later providing reds and oranges really keep things mud-free. Unless brown is what they want. Then by all means–bring on the full spectrum at once. Which, we’ve also done.
^^Vine App video alert. Of course the most important thing–and I don’t even like saying the word “important” when talking about having fun–is having fun with paint and letting them explore. I have found, over the course of the last year that Greta has really gotten into painting, that these five tips really made our painting sessions successful, happy, hilarious, enjoyable and melt-down/frustration free.
Any tips you’d add?