Around here we like to paint.

When Brandon started showing some passion for it, we didn't go halfway - we got him an easle, mounted canvases, acrylic paints, a huge set of brushes, palettes and a monsterous drop cloth for the table. He has been painting since he was 2. Many a family member has an original 'Brandon' hanging in their home.

As of late, Tyler has joined the foray - he too loves to paint, and after inheriting my grandmothers easle a few years ago, the two of them go to town together now. Painting days are much anticipated in these parts!

So some tips for encouraging your kids to produce works of art that you would want on your wall?

1. Get real paints. Go to a craft store and purchase a set of acrylic paints. Don't get water color (too dependant on the right amount of water - small children will struggle and it just ends up washed out), and do NOT get oil (just don't). Don't get the cheapo kiddie paints, don't get the prefilled palettes of paints - get the set of acrylic tubes - they don't have to be high end - you can get a full set of acrylic paints for 15$ if you hunt around - but do get REAL acrylic paints. This will give you art you want to keep and not just washed out messes.

2. Get real canvas. It's cheap. REALLY cheap. check the dollar store - they often have different sized mounted canvases for (you guessed it) $1. Check Wal-Mart - you can get big canvases for a few dollars (and sometimes BIG is cool - you will be surprised what a kiddo will do with a huge white canvas and some paints!). Even Michaels and other craft stores will have reasonably priced mounted canvases. This doesn't have to be complicated - you do not have to mount the canvas yourself or prime it etc, just take it home and paint!

3. Don't coach. As much as you will want to tell your child what to paint or how to paint, fight the urge. Show them how to mix colors, show them how to add a bit of water to their brush, and tell them to cover all the white on the canvas... then resist the urge to tell them anything... let this be THEIR work, not their depiction of what you think they should do. No rules - if they want to paint with their ear or big toe - let them. This is where creativity gets cool!!

4. Don't worry about the mess!! Buy a bunch of cheap vinyl tableclothes at the dollar store, and drape EVERYTHING so you dont have to think about it... give your kids a set of designated painting clothes (acrylic paint will NOT come out of clothing), cover your table and chairs and floor with the tablecloths, and let them go to town. Limit the amount of water in their 'rinse' cups (we use shot glasses here - perfect size for little hands, and if it spills, it's never alot of water) and you're set!

5. Write their name and the date on the back of the painting - enjoy it!

Some people frame theirs - we buy the canvas mounted on wood frames and just hang them as they are, there's no right or wrong way to enjoy your child's art - just find somewhere you want to see it often and hang it up! Your child will love that their art is appreciated, and the painting experience will offer up hours of entertainment (not to mention physio and OT for the special needs sect!)!

Lastly - once the paints are set up, and the kids are going to work... take a break, and indulge in the quiet!

(well - until someone drops a shot glass of water, eats the cadmium yellow paint or sticks a paintbrush in his brothers ear...)

As a safety disclaimer - acrylic paints are not non-toxic - so do not allow your children to paint unattended if they are prone to putting things in their mouth. If they are major 'mouthers' you will likely want to avoid this activity altogether and look at some of Crayola's kid friendly (and non-toxic) paint products - their finger paints are FANTASTIC for the under 3 crew, and wash off everything with just water - so may be a better option for children who may eat their medium - ingested acrylic paints can be downright dangerous - so supervise and don't risk it with kids prone to eating stuff.


  1. beautiful. messiness is the best.

    Mattson Tomlin

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