Painting – the fun without the fuss

Painting – the fun without the fuss

Kids love to paint. And why not... it’s fun, it's creative, it's colourful, it's messy, and it offers children a great opportunity to make choices and express themselves.

But just what exactly do you need to get this wonderful activity underway? Not much I say, and certainly nothing fancy. Washable non-toxic paint is worth investing in and can be purchased cheaply, but you only need a couple of tubes on hand. In fact you may be surprised at just how much painting ‘equipment’ is already lurking around your home.

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Let me talk you through some tips for no fuss painting…

Do you need an easel? Nope! A table top is just fine, or even the floor. You could try taping paper to a wall outside that can be hosed off, or even the back fence.

Art paper… Don’t stress if you don’t have the ‘good’ stuff. If you’re anything like me then your kitchen bench has a teetering pile of papers (school newsletters, menus, junk mail) just crying out to be beautified, so paint on these. Workplace printers pour out paper with only one side printed, save it and bring it home. Snag any interesting bits of cardboard that come through the house, like those used in packaging for bedding or new work shirts. Rip the panels from boxes passing through on their way to the recycling bin. One of my favourite junk cardboards is the circle that sits below a frozen pizza or cake – wipe it clean, then pass it over to the junior artist and you’re halfway to a masterpiece!

An artists' palette… nah, not necessary folks. Put paint into any old container (from dips or yoghurt), egg cartons are great. For a flat palette you can even use a page from a magazine, or a lid from a container, to mix paint on. And you don't always need to offer your child a whole rainbow of colours. I find that if you limit paint colours to one, two or three, your paintings will end up less murky and muddy. It's nice to use analogous colours - these are the ones that sit side-by-side on a rainbow (eg blues and greens; or pinks and purples; or red, orange and yellow). White is fun, but black tends to be super dominant and takes over other colours. And I confess, I have an aversion to offering purple and yellow together – try it, and you will see why!

A fancy art smock… bah, overrated! The absolute best smock is a big ol' shirt worn backwards, but a large t-shirt is fine too. Make sure it's long enough to cover up all the clothes underneath (or just forget about wearing clothes underneath!) Hang your art smock up afterwards to let any paint dry out and don’t fuss about washing it – paint is colour, it's NOT dirt!

 Offer a couple of paint colours and a couple of tools to paint with.

Offer a couple of paint colours and a couple of tools to paint with.

Water pots… yep, you'll need to have water handy, but just use something non-breakable that won’t topple over when a brush is left in it. A one litre yoghurt container is perfect, or a clean tin can. Don’t overfill it – just half fill with water, then refresh when its dirty.

A paintbrush… well, they are great if you have some, but there are lots of objects in and around your house that can be used to paint with if you don’t. And don’t forget those perfectly shaped and fabulous painting tools hanging right there on the ends of your child’s wrist… fingerpainting is absolutely the best!

Here are just a few alternative brushes that you easily find around your home. If your child doesn’t don’t like to hold onto a soggy sponge or cotton ball you an wedge it in a clothes peg, and they can hold that.

  • a clean kitchen sponge, whole or cut into shapes
  • old kitchen utensils: eg strainer, potato masher, pastry brush
  • an old toothbrush or shaving brush
  • old makeup brushes or makeup sponges
  • cotton buds (singly, or in a bunch tied with a rubber band) or cotton wool balls
  • cardboard rolls from wraps or toilet paper (fringe one end with scissors for an interesting effect)
  • things from the garden: feathers, leaves, flowers, sticks, cones
  • things from the craft box: pom poms, pipecleaners, wool
  • a piece of cardboard or business card or makes a great paint scraper
  • a flyswat (that hasn't been used on flies!)
  • playdough toys: rolling pin, cutting wheel, shape cutters
  • icypole sticks
  • toys… let kids roll some old toy cars through the paint, stamp with plastic animals or lego, or roll with a ball or balloon. If it can be soaked in water afterward, it can be used to paint
  • plastic cutlery
  • bubblewrap
  • have fun!
 Oil pastel swirls turn painterly when you rub them with fingers dipped into baby oil.

Oil pastel swirls turn painterly when you rub them with fingers dipped into baby oil.

 Here's to swishing with a shaving brush...

Here's to swishing with a shaving brush...

Keep it simple

Keep it simple

Bron - why do you always sing so high?

Bron - why do you always sing so high?