Monday, May 7, 2012

Children's Art as Home Decor

 Here is what art often looks like at our house:


It's everywhere- all colors- it's about the experience more than the product without a doubt. And that's how I like it.

Well, except sometimes. (Smile.) Sometimes I want to put the "art" on the wall, and while I tolerate- and indeed love- a certain amount of disorder, sometimes I want the color scheme in the room to work too.

For a while I just accepted that in order to display my children's art on the walls, I had to have crazy, unbridled scribbles all over the place, or resign myself to impersonal store-bought prints. That's all well and good, but sometimes crazy color everywhere and scribbles galore don't create the sense of peace that I'd like to have in my home. Soooo....

Lately I've been influencing said child art just enough so that it doesn't overtly clash with everything else, and encouraging the children to try techniques, shapes or ideas which go well in the room I'm decorating.

Easier said than done perhaps, but hear me out:

A friend recently gave us this comforter. (Thanks Catherine!)


I've decided to use it in one of the girl's rooms, so I tasked the kids with painting a few (leftover) canvases to go with/enhance the theme. 
The pictured canvas is a "finished product" from a previous painting session, and I asked the kids to paint over it for our new project to reuse the canvas.
First, I asked them to pick out the shapes they saw on the comforter. (Easy enough in this example.) They all identified circles, and the older ones identified stripes on the under side.

Then, I asked them to identify the colors used (again, easy in this example): purple and green.

While they told me which colors they saw, I put out just the colors- in paint- they identified. Then I asked them to pick two other colors, not on the comforter, which looked nice with purple and green. They suggested white and pink, both of which I found and put out for them. (Perhaps I should mention here that we already had a drop cloth down, our paint, water, and brushes out, and our smocks on?)


We painted a background with our chosen palette. This is my middle daughter's canvas- no one was surprised that she chose pink and purple from the colors available. We let the background paint dry.


Next, I talked to the kids about wanting to create a painting which had some of the same shapes and colors as the comforter. This was a bit more abstract, so I showed them an example of how to make a circle by holding the paintbrush steady and drawing a circle with it.


 (I didn't think to take a picture of this step until the paintings were nearly complete, so here is me adding another circle to one of the canvases. Sorry.)

They really liked this idea, particularly when they saw that they could dip their paint in two different colors, and as they dragged their brushes the paint colors would mix, sometimes enough to create a new shade, sometimes not.

Then, I sat back and let them experiment. They painted and repainted. I sometimes suggested where there was some open space that might want a design or two, and I sometimes sat back to let the process happen. They chose different brushes to make different sized circles, and on their own perceived that my 2 year old could make more precise circles with bigger brushes, while my five year old could wield the smaller brushes. While I had originally set out two canvases, one for each participating child, the kids shared them quite well and produced a complete joint effort.

In the end...


While I 'm not an advocate of restricting the creative art process all the time, doing so some of the time can actually push kids to think about new ways of expression, in my view.

Neither Ben nor Ava would have produced these pieces on their own, but the combination of my shape and color parameters, their perceived skill and comfort levels with the medium, and their sense of creativity produced some neat paintings that we can use in the bedroom!





In the end, we were all happy. Mama had her two new paintings that (at least relatively) match the bedroom decor, and the kids got to have some fun painting and trying a couple new techniques.

The paintings aren't up yet, but I'll post an update when they are. (Smile.)






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