It seems like I've mentioned this before, but as one of those crafty people, I can say for a fact that my craftyness has never easily translated into getting crafty with my kids. I think I'm a typically Type A person, and as we all know - crafting with kids is messy. AS IT SHOULD TO BE. And honestly, I don't think it's the messes that have ever bothered me (Ethan is much more bothered by messes than me, which is ironic because when we got married, messes were NEVER a concern to him. haha - I think we've switched brains in a lot of ways over the past 14 years.)
It's the stress of just dealing with kids' personalities while crafting. And not just any kids, my kids. I think every parent deals with this in some ways. Our kids generally behave much better for other adults - at least that is what I typically see. And when Mommy is involved (especially Mommy!), there's a certain needyness and whineyness that comes with it all. I also feel that my kids have been generally... no better way to put this.. more high-strung in the past. The least little thing would just set them off. If something didn't go perfectly when crafting or creating, if they made a "mistake" (and as we all know, there are no mistakes in art! mistakes make art) it was just... over.
But with everyone, you just typically chill out as you get older, and even Campbell being five, he's chilled out in a lot of ways. And Cooper is super chill compared to the way he used to be (Lord thank-you.)
I think I've always held a bit of guilt that, yes, I'm that crafty gal... non-crafty people assume that we will be just as crafty with our kids.. and since I haven't been - I've felt pretty guilty about it. (What is it with parents? Always so guilt-ridden! ha)
All that said, this project went SUPER smoothly! I was thrilled! I was browsing around Atlanta's Art Supply Mecca, Binders, many weeks ago and it really inspired me to just jump in and try my hand at crafting with my boys again. We've had so many fails and meltdowns in the past, I had almost admitted defeat, but I was determined to try again.
And I'm so glad I did. I knew I wanted to do something that we could display in our home. Something they could look at every day and be proud of. I wanted them to know how proud of their work I was, too. They know if Mommy puts something on the wall, well then IT MUST BE PRETTY AWESOME.
I tried to have a plan beforehand so it wasn't a free-for-all, to eliminate any possible stressful situations for everyone. They were really excited about this big project Mommy had up her sleeve, and really, that's half the battle: getting them excited. They asked about it daily after I had bought the suppli1es "when are we going to do the project?" We finally did it one Saturday and dedicated a good part of the day to it because you have to let each layer dry in between.
Here are some things I kept in mind before we started, that worked out really well. I thought I'd list them here in case you've had the same problem as me in the past, just coming up with a doable project that everyone could enjoy, and also something that you could actually display in your home:
1. Limit Your Color Palette. I chose a handful of colors that would be used by everyone to create a cohesive look to all three canvases.
2. Make sure you let each layer dry! If you're like me (and my kids) you might be impatient. It's worth it to let each layer dry so that the colors don't mix together and become muddy. We had 3 layers.
3. Have repeating elements throughout all three canvases. We all used a limited color palette, but used all of the same colors in some way on each of our canvases. We also repeated the circular shaped elements as well on all 3.
4. Don't stress! And don't micro-manage. Part of me doing this with them was to teach them a little bit about creating art and knowing "when to stop" or when it needs "something a bit more". But do that in a way that is encouraging and not telling them exactly what to do (no matter how much you want to.) For example, Campbell didn't really want to stop adding more and more colors and "dots". I was worried they would all start to blend together in a big blob, but I was surprised that he did end up stopping after a while, and in all honesty - his painting is probably my favorite! Similarly, I was really impressed with Cooper's Minimalism! Usually kids want to add more, more, more, but he was very pleased with the "white space" and didn't want to bother with it too much - which was awesome!
5. Be sure to protect your surface and your kids' clothing. Those IKEA smocks have definitely come in handy that we bought many years ago and we put down kraft paper on our table.
6. Be strategic with the day you decide to take on a project. For us, a school night would've never worked. They are generally much more rested on weekends and you can devote a lot more time to it. All of this is common sense really, but good things to remember.
7. And this might be obvious, but use acrylic paint (or watercolors), not oil paint. Oil paint takes foreeeever to dry and is super smelly. It's also more expensive. I bought the generic brand of acrylics at Binders. They were perfect!
There was not one meltdown or stressful moment. Total victory (and relief!)
I bought lots of new supplies because we were in dire need of them. I'll say that we hardly used these Martha Stewart paints. They have that pearlescent look, which is pretty, but doesn't really stand out like I had hoped. Not really worth the purchase in my opinion.
I chose black for the line art drawing, because I knew it would stand out so well on top of these bright saturated colors. I knew I wanted to stick with just one color to keep it from getting busy, and I liked the graphic look of the black line art coupled with the larger abstract painted shapes.
You can always identify my sports-addict-son's work by the football and soccer imagery (below). ; ) And of course course weapons. I was thinking "awe, look how cute they are drawing and painting" and then they both started pointing out the weapons in their drawings and the "battles" that were taking place. Oy, what is it with boys and the weapons? It must be in their DNA?
I took inspiration for my painting loosely from a vintage fabric pattern I found online, that I can't seem to find now! I have to say it was the first time I'd created a piece of "art" in a really, really long time and I found myself all night doing that thing you do in art school.. where you hang it on the wall, stand back, critique it in your head, add more paint strokes and line drawings, a little here, and a little there, until it's just right. It took me back to college in a really great way. It was a great feeling. My piece might not be anything special, but the process of it was really fulfilling.
When you're done, you can finish off the edges if you'd like, or not. I added washi tape and other decorative tape and I love the finished look.
I love the way they compliment each other hanging in our playroom/living room. Seeing my boys create art reminded me of a fantastic quote by Picasso that I heard in college. It couldn't be a more true statement. Art by children isn't self-conscious in the way it becomes for adults - it's so expressive in the purest sense.