Friday, March 14, 2014

Making messes with little artists

I love making with kids. While some may be blind to the absolute beauty in the artwork of children, we could all learn valuable lessons from the makings of young artists.

Despite their differences... boys, girls, shy, funny, loud, neat, messy... they all seem to leap over the hurdle of creative inhibition and are fearless in their making. They explore new mediums with true curiosity, like tiny mad arty scientists.

They will not be rushed or forced. "Are you done yet? Is it finished?" Kids relish the process of making. With little tongues sticking out, they focus on the task at hand and the clock be damned!


Want to make some messes with little fingers? Here are few tips for creative exploration with younger kids:

• Give as little direction as possible. This may sound silly but by providing only the necessary instructions you encourage creative play. Absolutely help when asked, but give them the opportunity to do it for themselves.

• Work in stages. Putting a huge variety of materials out all at once can be overwhelming. By working in stages you can ease in new materials and techniques.

• If you are worried about mess don't provide glitter, glue, stamp pads or paint. If you don't mind being messy, plastic tablecloths, paper plates, and sponge brushes make messy work a little more manageable.

• Don't put anything you don't want used within eye-shot. Kids have a built in radar for the most expensive, the sharpest, messiest or dangerous objects. If you don't want it used, keep it hidden.

• Offer a variety of materials to work with. Stamps, paint, buttons, tags, paper, trims, ribbons, stickers, tape, scraps. I like to always provide at least a few nice quality supplies because I think it's important for them to have that opportunity if possible. Children can absolutely tell the tactile difference between inexpensive and quality supplies. Even as adults it's nice to have a crafty treat once in a while.

• Expect everything to be completely obliterated. It's just easiest to have this mindset from the get-go.

• Bring extras. At the end of every workshop I have done with kids, many want to make seconds. Because time is usually an issue, I tell them they can take some supplies home to make another there. Kids are great and generally not very greedy.

• RELAX! Art, craft and creativity isn't always about a pretty end result. Sometimes it's just about the joy of gluing this to that. Don't pressure, don't push, don't criticize. Guide, praise and play. Offer help, give suggestions, but don't be grabby and do not take over and do it for them.

Finally, a word of thanks to the little artists that came out today! You were so much fun to work with and your blocks are amazing!



  1. I love creating with my grandchildren! The things they create have MUCH more meaning than something a skilled designer has made and I buy off Etsy or Ebay! So much more love and heart go into what they create with their little hands!! Thanks for all the great suggestions and for sharing your skills with the little ones!

  2. I have a 9-year-old granddaughter who not only looks like me, but is a miniature craft fanatic like me. We go into my studio, and she is allowed to use anything she wants, and the search for just the right embellishment or paper is as much fun for her as the project itself. I give her a space, but no instructions unless she asks. She always makes a "present" for me, and I always frame or mount it and use them to decorate my kitchen. Our Christmas tree is full of her creations. What joy!