Some of my friends are quite amazed at how the kids do art regularly. There is serious space constraint and I've no helper to clean up the aftermath. Sometimes when I look back at what we've done, I'm quite amazed too! Here are some of the ways which we make it fun and yet keep our sanity at the same time!
REMEMBER THE ARTIST IS A CHILD
I can focus about a stretch of 2 hours when I'm doing art. I am 33 this year. My children are 4 and 1, so technically, they only have an attention span of 15 minutes to 45 minutes. At the beginning, I was rather disappointed that after all the set up, Noe just dabbled at circle stamping for just 5 minutes! And then I've to spend 15 minutes cleaning up the mess. But I realise it's all baby steps to improvement and creating a process that the children are familiar with and as they grow, they can focus better.
EASY CLEAN UP THROUGH CONTAIN AND CONTROL
Clean up is the number one concern with most parents, especially those without a helper. I've found the following methods useful. The main principle is to contain and control. I make sure there is a boundary when the children do art. If it's at the table, they will sit on chairs that's of a comfortable height and the table will be cleared completely so that there's ample space for their art materials. If it's on the floor, they will be sitting on a mat. If it's at the high chair, a mat will be placed below it. When Nat and Noe were younger, I used to put them in the playpen when we were doing majorly messy art. Sometimes a masking tape to mark the boundary is useful. Nat and Noe understand that they can only use the art materials at the table or at the mat. At any time, they decide to run around, the materials will be kept.
Other tips I've is to use a box to contain all the materials needed, so at the end I just dump everything into that box and bring it to the bathroom to wash. Some art work can be done on a big tray as well if it's very messy like shaving foam or monoprinting. it's always handy to have a few pieces of cloths at hand for interim clean up if someone spills the water.
BRING THE ART OUTDOORS
I must say the next pressing concern is space. My house is a tiny 69sqm. It only takes like 30 minutes to vacuum and mop the whole house. I do not live in perfect world, I've had a few heart attacks like paint on the couch, paint on walls, paint on the floor. So sometimes to calm my heart, I bring them to the park to paint. I just pack a disposable container, small bottles of paint and off we go. We've collected leaves to do printing. Sometimes I bring along bottle caps or cut up sponges that are easy to pack. I bring a small bottle of water and a piece of cloth for clean up. Recently, we made our own paintbrushes by collecting leaves and branches! Art is everywhere in nature!
Nat and Noe like to wear a ginormous bib when they do art, it works like an apron for them. I do not really like those art jackets, I find it very hot to wear. Better still, I just let them wear the clothes that I'm okay with getting paint stains and and I keep making them wear those whenever they do art. It will be good to schedule art lessons near to bathing times, because I'll just whisk them off to the bathroom right after they paint. And usually I plan to cook a meal that's a one pot dish so I don't go absolutely mad.
HONOUR YOUR CHILD'S ART WORK
I've set up a corner to display Nat and Noe's art to create a sense of ownership of their artwork. Sometimes during meal times, Nat and I will talk about the artwork he has done. Sometimes he will just mention random thoughts he has and I think it creates opportunity for creative conversations. There was once, he tried to mimic or replicate a certain style because he remembers the artwork so vividly even though I've taken it down.
TAKE TIME TO UNDERSTAND THE YOUNG ARTIST
I've heard parents say that their children are not interested in art because they cannot sit still so they do not involve their child in any art activities. However, I believe all children like art but there are so many different aspects to art rather than just painting at the table! Sometimes they may not be ready for certain forms of artwork. Perhaps the fine motor skills required are way too advanced. Maybe they're more sensitive to different textures or they're just not interested in that particular activity. Noe doesn't enjoy getting paint onto her fingers but she loves doodling! She can doodle for 15 minutes straight but can't stand painting for even 5 minutes! Nat loves all kinds of sensory art activities like finger painting but he doodles so haphazardly. I find that it is good to explore various kinds of art with them to see what clicks.
Most importantly, I constantly remind myself that art is a process and it takes time for a child to understand the boundaries and how to use the various materials. During this process, It is most wonderful to see a child's creativity develop, how he/she brainstorms and explores the all possibilities of art!