As I’ve mentioned a few times now, we are currently in the process of moving. Of course, prior to officially moving in, we’ve been visiting the new place to get things cleaned, fixed, and all set to go. Part of that has included painting. So far we’ve painted six different spaces each with a new color. Thankfully, the kids have kept themselves, more or less, entertained and well-behaved throughout our long days of painting. Surely, we’ve had the incessant bugging to help us paint but after a failed attempt and a not-so-pretty green stain on our hardwood floors, we’ve set forth a “rule” that only adults will be painting the rooms. “Adults” meaning “Mommy only” has obviously worked out much better in regard to keeping the paint on the walls and off of the flooring.
However, both of our little ones are pretty artistic and, after all, this is just as much their home as it is Mommy and Daddy’s. Once we finally get moved in, they’ll definitely be allowed to decorate their own kid spaces as they see fit. That aside, I wanted to give them the opportunity to take part in the whole “decorating a new home” experience. As much as I’d prefer to keep them away from the permanent, damages-my-floor kind of paint, I decided to let them go for it… on my terms.
Once we had the new place painted, it donned on me that (aside from some family photos) we have no art pieces to display on our nicely painted, new walls. After catching wind of a sale at our local craft store, for $20 we had ourselves set up for an awesomely huge art project! At 4×4’ the kids were thrilled with the “super big fun” we were about to have. With a little creativity, I decided to let their “mess” become our “art.”
Now, I know that you’ve all seen it. The chaotic, non-traditional paint works of many famous artists. Andy Warhol was a genius at his craft of craziness but Jackson Pollock gained fame through, in my mind, simply acting like a child. Think about it… if you were to give a child some paint and a brush but never taught them the “correct” way to paint, what would they do? Nine times out of ten, they’d end up with a huge mess; too much paint on the brush, a lack of clean lines, globs of paint here and there. In the end, though, who has the right to say that their mess isn’t worthy of being called art? Who gets to decide that? If chimpanzees, elephants, rats, and even bumblebees can create museum worthy art, why can’t a child? Sure, we have the cliché refrigerator art for out little ones’ masterpieces but I wanted to take it a step farther. And so we did.
At a buy-one-get-one-free sale, I picked up some 2×2’ canvases. My original plan was to get two but, considering the sale, I ended up doubling our project and came home with four large square canvases. After setting up a tarp on the floor (no green hardwood this time!), I added my own creative touch at the kids’ request. I had suggested using some of the spare painters’ tape that we had on hand to make a design. When I asked the kids what they thought of the idea, requests for their initials were made. It was a cute, personal touch that I happily obliged to.
After taping off the canvases, we decked the kids out in some old paint clothes, I handed each child a brush and we let them have at it. Initially, they were a bit apprehensive.
I think that they were a bit thrown off by the idea of being allowed to make a mess. Finally, they’re little boy instincts took over and they had a blast with it! Paint nicely over here, throw some paint over there, a little dab here, a giant glob beside it; it was hilarious to watch. The neat painting turned into crazy painting and the level of fun went through the roof.
After allowing our little project to dry for what seemed like ages, we tore off the painters’ tape to reveal their masterpiece!
There are still a few wet spots but, once they dry we’ll be adding hand print signatures to their respective corners for an extra personal touch. Yes, it’s messy but this is art. This is their art. This, like them, is beautiful. And now, their gorgeous, chaotic, crazy mess is the heart of our home – just as they are.
By the end of it, we were (of course) all covered in paint but is a little mess really that bad? Paint washes off. Messes are easily cleaned up. Children will not remember whether or not things were kept and/or done neatly. Do you know what they will remember? They’ll remember making memories. Let them explore their creative side and dabble in the world of coloring (or painting) outside of the lines. After all, who are we to limit or shelter the magic that they can share with the world? Forget what society told you is “the right way” and just go with the flow. Life is short and we must give our children every opportunity to enjoy it.