Toddlers love to get their hands dirty, so last week we finally joined the many who chose to direct their little person’s mess-making urge into some creative gifts.
I’ve seen cards, tree decorations and much more all made with great success but, when considering what gifts we might like for Eva’s grandparents, my mind turned to our summer painting session with pals Charlie and Ellie. We rather liked the result, and small canvases remain dirt cheap at Tiger, as per Charlie’s tip-off. By our reckoning, even Grandma and Grandad will tolerate a bit of ‘abstract art’ if created by their own flesh and blood! (our parents are pretty forward-thinking’ types anyway!) So we decided to revisit the idea… with a couple of small tweaks.
The first tweak is that we opted to paint the canvases before Eva set to work on them. (Over)Thinking about this in the context of a more mature person’s house, I figured black and white could be quite stark, so I opted to soften things by painting some canvases off-white, and others dark brown. We painted all around the edges too, the beauty of these little canvas blocks being that there is no need to frame them (the other plus point is that no amount of over-enthusiastic paint-application by a toddler will cause this surface to crease and tear)
Once they were dry, we invited Eva into the kitchen and offered her various Galt Squeeze & Brush Paints on another good tip-off. The joy of these is that they give the child the choice of a brush, but can just as easily be squirted out for finger painting if you prefer. Plus they are easy to clean, being plastic, and refillable. I offered a choice of two ‘contrasting’ brushes at a time so as not to overwhelm her, and she set to work with great enthusiasm.
… well, for the first five minutes at least…
We had five small canvases for her to experiment with and, I won’t lie, we had to work to keep her attention (I would recommend keeping the lids out of sight with the Galt brushes; they can be incredibly distracting and – maybe its just me – but I figure a grainy iPhone video of Eva removing and replacing the lid of a paint brush for ten minutes doesn’t quite have the gift appeal of a finished ‘artwork’!) But we had weapons in our armoury to lure her back – animal shaped sponges and numerous cheap brushes. In fact, one of the best paint effects came from me inviting her to ‘clean’ the canvas with some kitchen roll (Like many children of her age, she is currently cleaning crazy!).
The other tweak to the painting plan was to do the work over several sittings: One layer, then let it dry, another that evening, or the following morning. And finally, a coating with a glue-stick and a glitter application. In the end, we decided the off-white canvases didn’t really need it, but the dark brown ones were marginally less successful so a Good Glittering was exactly what was required to brighten them up. This was probably the funniest bit of all: we bought a multipack of glitter shakers (again, from Tiger). Him Indoors tested the ‘flow’ then put masking tape across the opening to reduce it. Just as well, as Eva then proceeded to Glitter Everything. The floor, us, the table, our hair… her approach worked well because the canvases just happened to be in the way, along with everything else! (plus, it added a bit of much-needed Christmas cheer to the house given I still haven’t put the decorations up!)
In retrospect, I think the dark brown backgrounds were a little too strident for the children’s paints, which looked a bit watery against them. Once I started mixing in some white to the Galt colours, we had a more success but, were we doing this again, I would stick with the off-white background. That said, we are presenting each grandparent with a pair, one dark and one light, and I think they could look quite nice hanging alongside one another.
To be honest, it was well worth doing this if just to witness the comedy of the creation-in-progress. One moment Eva was the conductor of a posh orchestra, flicking paint with a real flourish while standing proudly on a fold-away step (her favourite accessory of the moment!) …the next slopping it over the table while wriggling about on Daddy’s knee…. then she would mosey on over to the oven or a photo of Nanny to offer a blob of orange, a touch of green. Then flick a boatload of light blue all over the collar of my dressing gown for good measure. It was all pretty high-energy Jackson Pollock-type stuff, I assure you! ;0)
Overall, it was definitely more successful than my other (misguided) experiment of the week, ‘Unicorn Bark’. *Sigh* See my Facebook Page for the outcome of that. Or maybe best not!
I reckon the lucky recipients will be chuffed. Eva loves painting. And we can cross a few more gifts off the list. So everyone’s a winner.
Apart from the fridge, which is now orange and glittery. Oh well! The kitchen needed a makeover anyway…