Man, am I glad I did this.
Let me set the stage for you: mama artist, wanting to not push or rush or hurry creativity (anything really) on her babe. Puts ALL this pressure on herself to set up creativity just so (this was early on mind you). And then…she just just GOES for it.
ONE warm fall day…while juicing some beets, she (meaning me) pours some juice in a little glass bowl, grabs a piece of paper, and a couple of brushes. Sticks her kiddo in a high chair, pushes the chair up to the big table, puts materials out and just WATCHES.
Confession time: I did take a few pictures. click, click. Tad bit of guilt when I do this (I do try hard not to do it all the time). I DID work on being quiet, and figuring out what that meant for me – to not ‘comment’ on each action, etc. The super cool thing was, the more I just watched (and was just kind of present without leaning over her TOO much), the more she settled in, and experimented.
Did she make marks with the tool (a brush) I left out? Totally! Did she taste the paint? Of course! Did she DUMP the entire bowl of paint on the paper, watching it run down into her seat? You betcha! Did I jump up and clean it all up? Nope! I let her have her exploring time. It was all washable. It was all natural. Everything was fine. ( as a side note, you can tape a jar of paint down on the table if you don’t want this to happen). In the end, she was…intrigued, proud, thought it all was funny!
A couple tips to consider . . .
1 Set up for freedom. Use a high chair or table surface for set up, move the carpet, pin-up the drape, move other things you can’t wipe down or would be upset if it got dirty. Can’t move the carpet? Put a drop cloth (or towel, or sheet). Have your babe wearing something you are OK with getting dirty!
2 Go natural. Use an all natural juice (beet, spinach, blueberry, etc) or natural paint. It’s just worth it to know what is going into their skin + mouth. Plus the colors are nature at its best, most intelligent. Natures colors are a win all around.
3 Choose thick(er) paper. If you can, go for a watercolor or thicker paper that will stay put. Another idea is to tape the paper to your surface. I often do that to support babes mark making, unless you want to have them experiment with paper too – just be prepared as they can take bites of loose paper, so keep an eye on them!
4 Resist chiming in. OK, here we go, try to hold on – – (I know its hard!) to your remarks, to the ‘right way’ to do paint, to anything at all here. Let the babe do it their way. (Keep it safe though.) Let them have this super sweet curious creative moment to own. Oh WAIT they are painting over that beautiful first mark? Crumbling up the paper? Chewing on the brush? All OK! As long as they are safe, it’s all experiment, all learning, all this moment:)
5 Prepare yourself for anything. What? My baby might not want anything to do with this fresh juice I just prepared?! Or better yet – is drinking (oh my) the paint. Oh my! Or…throwing it?! It’s all okay, really. All OK 🙂 … and part of the process of painting with babes.
Bonus tip – be PROUD of yourself! for giving your baby (and yourself) a creative sensory experience (even if they reject it!). It’s giant, in the scheme of brain development and more.
Now, can I run and get a sponge to clean this up before it stains the wood floor? xo