art with kids, the two scenarios…illustrated with crappy pictures™

Before I had kids, I had wonderful visions of doing art with them all day.

I'm artsy! I love doing art! Kids love art! I will be such a cool mom.

I will set out a vast array of art supplies and they'll happily paint away while I sew or sketch or do some other crafty and satisfying thing alongside them.

This has never happened.

Believe me, I've tried. My efforts always culminate in one of two scenarios.

Scenario One:


I set up a beautiful arrangement of paint in little cups with brushes and piles of fresh paper. I cover the kitchen table with a drop cloth. I have water and towels handy.

I am prepared for a full afternoon of painting with them.

Set up time takes about fifteen minutes.

They sit down, eager. I am just about to settle in and grab a piece of paper for myself when…


They are done. After only 3 minutes.


So I start cleaning up. Pouring excess paint back in the bottles from the cups.


And washing cups and brushes.

Cleanup time takes about 15 minutes.

Did you catch that math? 30 minutes of prep/cleaning versus 3 minutes of actual art making.

I hate Scenario One.



Scenario Two:

Scenario Two starts the same. They sit down and they are eager. 

Their attention is actually held for quite a bit longer.

Their attention is held because of the amount of mess they are making.

Scenario Two officially starts the moment they invent a new technique, like splattering paint across the paper or pouring it directly onto the paper. I always applaud these techniques. They are having fun! Creativity is messy!  

I applaud them because there is a stifled artist inside of me living vicariously through their freedom. Plus, I am an idiot.

It always ends with paint being dumped on the floor or splattered on the wall. And they are covered in it too.

I either have to let them contaminate the entire house with primary colors, or I have to put them in the tub right away.

Art-11 Putting them in the tub right away means that the paint is meanwhile drying on the floor and walls. Which means it will be hard to clean later. Which means it may never be completely cleaned. 

I strongly dislike Scenario Two. 



Hopeful, I still believe that there must be an alternate scenario. There can't be just two. 

In an attempt to avoid the time disappointment of Scenario One and the messy disaster of Scenario Two I must come up with a new project.

I've tried crayons. No interest. I've tried markers. Same. Finally, I think of something new that is sure to hold their interest.

Stamps! Stamps are perfect.

There is virtually no prep time or cleaning up. I just lay out stamp ink pads and a few stamps and paper. 

The stamps are small and the ink is self-contained. No dumping of paint on the floor either.

This will be great! I'm so clever! 


It is going well! They are stamping! I may have actually discovered the elusive Scenario Three! I notice the toddler is using the ink pad itself as a stamp on the paper and he is getting a little ink on his hands.

So I dash to the kitchen to grab a wet towel to clean his hands. 


And when I return five seconds later, the scene is, um, a little different. The four year old is now standing next to the toddler and they are applying ink directly to their faces. They are giddy with laughter.

So I ask them what they are doing.

They've invented a new stamping technique.

Foiled again. It is Scenario Two. 



Do you do art with your kids? What do you do? 

This entry was posted in crappy pictures, doing art, messy stuff, parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

100 Responses to art with kids, the two scenarios…illustrated with crappy pictures™

  1. toni says:

    You are HILARIOUS!!!

    I’m only up to crayons with my toddler now. I’ve been thinking about watercolors next, even if I’m anticipating a huge mess much like your second scenario.

    Maybe I’ll skip the stamps first. I don’t think I’m prepared for face painting yet! 🙂

  2. Heather says:

    OMG I love you. I too am crafty and always daydreamed about doing it with my kids but it is always a mess. LOL at the primary colors contaminating the house.

  3. AngelaS says:

    I am not artistic nor do i like to clean so we stick with crayons!

  4. $0.99 water color are all I can handle in the house.

    • Krystal says:

      Amen to that! I can’t do pretty much anything else with my boy because it somehow or another ends up like scenario 2.

  5. J. says:

    The baby eating the paintbrush is a brilliant picture! Every artistic endeavor over here culminates in that same way–marker, crayon, whatever in the mouth. We usually paint or draw during the baby’s naptime. I can’t handle messes.

  6. Sappomom says:

    This is so accurate! We do playdoh but even that gets messy.

  7. Michele says:

    I am not artsy but I have found and awesome playgroup. They bring art supplies, help kids with art project and clean up table while I go wash kids hands, arms, and faces in a public bathroom. (Bathroom I don’t have to clean if another kid makes a bigger mess getting cleaned up.) Love it!

  8. Veronica says:

    OMG, that’s EXACTLY what happens to me when I try being civilized and painting on the table… I’ve resorted to doing crafts in the bathtub. I strip him to diapers, line the bottom of the bathtub with paper, let him “express” himself. Once he’s done I pick up the paper and paint, remove the diaper and fill up the tub. That way the toddler and the mess gets cleaned at once!

    • Littlefoot says:

      Omg, Veronica, that is such a great idea! I haven’t started with paint yet, but when I do, I’m definitely doing that!

      Lol to crappy baby with the paint brush in his mouth! How old is crappy baby anyway?

  9. Kelly says:

    Nope, don’t do art in the house any more. We’ve tried cleaner options like crayons. They get left scattered on the floor. Dog eats crayons. Dog craps a rainbow of colors. It’s to the point where picking up dog poo is like playing a game of colors…locate the rainbow! I’m perfectly happy with sidewalk chalk, & paint. Set up is minimal since we keep it all outside. Clean up is easy: I turn on the sprinkler. If the art medium can’t be hosed off, it’s not permitted on the premises. Don’t get me started on the time my SIL bought my kids dry erase markers. I was ready to send my kids back over to her house with them…with “missing” caps.

  10. Head Ant says:

    You have made my day!

  11. Evin Cooper says:

    Hahahah this cracked me up! My son peeked over my shoulder and said “What are you reading?? Is it like a comic book for mommies?” Yes. Yes it is, son.

  12. Lindsay says:

    This is just awesome! I must share 🙂

    I laughed so much at the picture of the baby eating the paint… totally my life!

  13. Hehe.. we are currently to crayons and markers on the picnic table outside. Or sidewalk chalk.

  14. Nicole says:

    In the nice weather, set up an umbrella in the yard and put some big sheets of paper down (newsprint remnants are ideal)
    get the kids in their skivvies, and get some finger paints out there.
    if they want to roll in the paint, let them. if they want to use their feet, go for it.
    i did this with the kids i babysat full time a couple years back. they loved it.
    there was also a rule that was made where only brushes could be used for inside painting, and anything was ok for outside, as long as they asked first.
    kind of a tangent, but still cool: i took them to the dollar store and we spent about $10 in painting tools. mini squirt guns, feather dusters, a hand broom, basically anything that could move paint around. i covered the whole driveway in newsprint and weighted it down and had the paints and tools set up before the kids woke up the following day. we were out there painting for 8 hours, only breaking for food. wash their hands and faces and they were set.
    we did that once every other week. eventually a bunch of the neighbour kids would come over in their swim suits and have paint and supplies and we would all have a blast.
    the kids were a little bit older than yours at the time, but i am sure you could get your boys to follow those rules.

  15. Great blog and so original! Hyperbole and Two Halves! Huge thanks for visiting my site and commenting. Glad the mommy biter is on your radar. Now teach me how to draw already!!!! My son is a serious painter/drawer/art student/four year-old sketcher and I can barely muster up a rendering of an hexagon. Art projects are hilariously one-sided around here.

  16. Cami says:

    We made homemade sidewalk chalk paint (same parts cornstarch to water with a little food coloring) and let them paint the sidewalk and everything else outside, including themselves. Wait until it dries before putting them in the tub and then pour water all over the yard. Tada! Clean! Better yet, give them a soapy bucket of water and scrub brushes and let them clean it themselves.

  17. Erica says:

    So glad to see a post tonight. I had a horrible day with my daughter and she actually bit me during a tantrum. This has never happened before, and hopefully never will again. But I found myself dealing with it by creating my own imaginary crappy pictures post about it. I can see it now, her little head leaning over my shoulder as I try to hold her gently and calm her down, and then RAWR- giant shark like teeth chomping down on my shoulder, coupled by me shrieking in pain. I hope you never get bitten, but if you do, at lest it will make a fabulous post. 🙂

  18. Kimberley says:

    Amazing. I just totally lol…. thank you for that. Scenario 1 & 2 play out in my house every time the craft cupboard is opened.

  19. Kristeena says:

    Amber, you crack me up. Your stories are so right on the money. I have two boys, 4 and 2.5 years so can feel your pain sista. I too have tried stamps, washable markers (WTF?), crayons, and chalk. I am afraid to try any sort of play dough because it is way too similar to gum, which is banned from my house but seems to find it’s way matted into the cat’s hair.

  20. Melissa T says:

    I love all these ideas! My DD is 2.5 yrs, and she out-grew her high chair for eating a long time ago, but we’ve made her high chair into her art desk. That way, she’s not climbing up and down, she just stays put until paint time is over. We also use watercolors, which are less messy. 🙂

  21. I tried! oh deary me how I have tried. My daughter is a crayon AND paper eater and my son is the human paper shredder. Needless to say I gave up after a bajillion attempts!

  22. Pamela says:

    I hate doing art with the kids. I’m terrible I know. But my oldest daughter spends every waking spare second drawing, coloring, cutting, taping, etc. Alas I signed her up for a weekly art class and it’s the highlight of her week. And the art supplies stay OUT of my house. Winning! My son despises anything requiring coloring or drawing…he’d rather do 12 math worksheets or play the pian all day. We’ll see what the next 2 children are like when the time comes!

  23. Rainmaker says:

    You are hysterical. I have one 3yo and can totally relate. More power to ya.

  24. Tori says:

    Please don’t ever stop doing these…I still haven’t stopped laughing!! I relate to all of these so much. I have a 20-month little boy and also had the art dreams. As you’ve so beautifully pointed out, things don’t always work out as you planned!

  25. Lindsey says:

    We do all our messy art OUTSIDE! This summer so far we have done wax painting, homemade playdough, clay, painting (and making homemade paint…awesome!)making sidewalk chalk and filling our sidewalk and driveway with lovely art (still hasn’t rained 2 weeks later…hmmm…)

    Our favorite art project so far was rock collecting, polishing said rocks then making rock art (gluing rocks together! ;)). My kids are 11, almost 7 and 1 1/2…we do most of our art projects while the little one is sleeping, she likes to eat crayons and brush her hair with paint brushes…we haven’t gotten beyond that.

    Our next project will be making knitting needles (wooden dowel, sandpaper and clay ends) and learning to knit! 😉

  26. Evin Cooper says:

    I needed a pic for my recent food rant post so I took a cue from you and drew a crappy picture! I gave you credit and a link back – here’s the post!

  27. Marta says:

    Hilarious as usual!

    Yeah, arts and crafts don’t happen often at my house for that reason! I always try to get crafty around the holidays but somehow I wind up doing all the crafts!

  28. Kelley says:

    This made me laugh out loud! I especially loved the part where they make one mark on the paper and are done. That is SO how it is around here. I’m so glad you commented on my blog the other day because it linked me back here. I will be by again!

  29. Julie says:

    This is hilarious and true! I laughed, then the baby laughed because I was laughing and now we’re all happy. Thanks!

  30. Elisabeth says:

    I think my favorite projects involve being outdoors with the items so that clean up happens there, not inside the home!

  31. Megan Coates says:

    Loved the picture with your toddler with the paintbrush in the mouth. My daughter is almost one and, miraculously, puts nothing in her mouth (including food) except her paci. Recently, I painted one of the walls in my kids play area upstairs with chalkboard paint. My son (who’s 3) loves to draw on it, but the other day he left the chalk out on the floor and I look up to see my 1-year-old happily sucking around on a piece of chalk. How is it she looks askance at any food I put on her tray, but she happily chomps around on some mangy chalk?

  32. Katie says:

    Lol! You are so funny!!! I am an art teacher. Scenario 3 is RARE, but I have found one project that (sometimes) works: clear contact paper plus colored tissue paper. Tape the contact paper sticky side up. Have some different tissue paper colors cut up in little squares. Think mosaic. The kids set the tissue on the contact paper & it sticks. You can cut the project into a shape after & stick it in the window for the sun to shine through. Usually my art room is just one big scenario 2, haha!

  33. Kimberly says:

    Very funny!! And… quite accurate!

  34. Sara says:

    So true! Only thing I’ve had success with is oil pastels on felt. Outside.

  35. Ellie says:

    It’s pretty disappointing here too. Like you, I am Arty and hope my boys will be too. DS1 (3) does love drawing and making stuff, but if we attempt anything more elaborate than crayons on paper, I have to sit on my hands in order not to turn into Nasty Bossy Boot Camp Mummy. No, There. Where the glue is! No, that’s enough glue now. Why not try one there? How about a different colour now, eh? etc. I had no idea I’d become this awful person and I HATE myself like this. The alternative is sitting back (on hands) and watching a tableful of tissue paper, glue, paint, sparkles and glitter become an amorphous, sticky blob of something unlovely. Even to DS1, who gets frustrated. We like making cardboard trains from odd boxes and loo paper rolls, etc, but they need to be painted, and the paint often needs to dry before chuffing them along the ground, and this is a stage a three-year old rarely tolerates.

    In addition to that, the baby is generally unputdownable and often in a sling. Try facilitating painting sessions without getting a sling (often a rented or borrowed one) all painty. I aspire to SouleMama-type sessions but we end up a bit grumpy and very messy. Which I’m sure never happens in the SouleMama household. 😉

  36. Henie says:

    HAHAHA! I let my kids paint IN the bathtub. It still require cleanup (finger paint plus grout is not a very good equation), but the kids can get clean while I clean the walls….

  37. Lori says:

    This is so funny! My daughter in law sent it to me. I love to paint with my grandchildren. Scenario #1 was all too true when they were under 3 years old. They are still all-out messy. Yes, when they are under 4 years old, clean up takes more time then the actual activity of painting. Since they are now 5 1/2 and 4 years old, they take at least 15 – 20 minutes painting. I lay an old sheet in their garage, they wear designated, old paint clothes. The younger one likes to get it all over himself, but he is getting better. Big brushes, large paper, a bucket of water, lots of old towels are all a must for us. If it’s hot, we can hose off outside in their backyard before coming in. Think the comments about using strange objects to paint with is a creative, good idea!

  38. Gaby says:

    We are big fans of the outdoors…when it’s really hot, just after lunch and before naptime. The grass and sidewalk get decorated, the kids get hosed off, and everyone is content to simultaneously nap for at least two hours. Peace, cleanliness, and time. What more could this mama ask for?

  39. DL says:

    Oh my goodness, I just snorted (from trying to cork my laughter) several times while reading this post, and tried to do it as quietly as possible since my own 19mo is asleep a few feet away from me. Dude, you are HILARIOUS!

  40. Popsicle Pete says:


  41. MaryMargaret says:

    I give them paint, brushes and huge packing paper….. and they paint – get this! It is ingenious! OUTSIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then when they are done, ****THEY**** clean up with a hose!!!!!!! It is awesome… and makes for some funny photographs!

  42. Mindy says:

    HAHAHAHA!! so funny.

    others have said it, but i’ll say it again.

    three words: naked outdoor painting !

    on a good day, it’s warm enough to just hose them off at the end.
    I don’t put out more than a couple paint colors, b/c they are going to go through all of whatever I put out, painting each other, the patio, and occasionally paper.

  43. Jenna says:

    Unless it’s cold enough for parkas or hot enough heat stroke all our art time happens outside at a cheap plastic table with semi-naked children and everyone/everything gets hosed down afterwards. Sinario 1, still sometimes a problem. Sinario 2, BRING IT ON!

  44. Liz says:

    I am lame in that I am not reading the comments so I may be repeating. However, I have a scenario 3 to offer (I can send pictures if you want them, some are hilarious).

    My daughter did most of her painting in the bathtub.

    Yes, strip the kid naked, give her an art palette of paints (thus smaller quantities) and brushes, and let her go to town all over the white tile walls. WHen she is bored, on comes the water and there is the fun of the messy bath. The you drain and refill and there is the fun of the clean bath.

    Worked like a charm.

    I haven’t read much of your blog but so far I love it.

  45. Amaya says:

    I have scenario 3! IF you have a fiberglass tub, put finger paint on a plate in the tub, then place a diapered child in tub- paper optional. Mine will draw on the paper, the wall, and himself and since he’s in the tub already, cleanup is easy. I’ve found crayola finger paints wash up with soap and water very easily.

  46. Jim says:

    I rarely get past scenario one. The only time I make it to scenario two is when I don’t even feel like it – and even when I’m participating, my daughter still manages to make the room look like a crime scene.

    Don’t feel bad – scenario three does not exist until they get older. I tell myself these things, but I don’t know if they are true.

  47. Jeanie says:

    warm day, naked or swim suits, finger paints, OUTSIDE. When they are done, sprinkler time.

  48. Amy says:

    Hilarious. Thank you. My littlest is 3. I, too, have experienced the same disappointing scenarios. We have done some outside art at an easel in the back yard and that actually went pretty well. But I live in NY, where that is only possible for a few months out of the year. I have lowered my expectations considerably, so now if she paints for more than 10 minutes, I am thrilled! Success! Have fun!

  49. Rooney says:

    Ha ha, and stamp ink is a BASTARD to clean.

  50. Hilarious…. so typical of young kids. It’s just never turns out the way we plan!!

  51. Sylvie says:

    yep, sounds about right. Solution (at least in summer)
    paint brush(es)
    That’s it, let them go nuts and paint anything and everything, even mud can be hosed off and they get to cool off at the same time. Even my 6 year still enjoys this as he can “colour” stuff that is usually of limits like windows, my clothes line and his sister!!!

  52. Jessica Smith says:

    omg, i about died laughing at this one. my 3 year old begs for the art supplies and i’m not giving in. i had the same dreams of doing art with my kids (i was a painting major in college!), but i wind up with all of those scenarios whenever we try, so i give up. thanks for the laugh!

  53. Ruth says:

    Best art/crafts for kids are the foam sticker kits from Walmart. They can make whatever they want and the only mess is the back peeled off the stickers. Plus it’s not a “mom craft” (ie: you do all the hard bits… which ends up being everything)

  54. Cat says:

    Outside! Our messy play is ALWAYS outside!

  55. Natalie Camilleri says:

    Yeh, totally am hearing you. the kids are constantly asking if they can paint! huh! I stick to playdough outside. Still artistic and ok to eat if you like salt etc, but safe and I get that hour of skimming through a magazine..

    Oh and I tried paper craft, they got a little bored until I wipped out a great paper aeroplanes then they were hooked!!

  56. Murasaki says:

    We made an Easter Parade hat and I let the big one use some stickers from my scrapbooking box including letters. Next day baby had a C an X and an L in her nappy. Yep. I wondered if she was trying to send me a message. EXCellent parenting?

  57. Jen says:

    I put disposible diapered kids (mine are not potty trained yet) in the bathtub with paint, brushes, and paper. When they are done, I remove the supplies and diapers, and wash everything else, but the kids, down the drain.

  58. Caryn says:

    You are brilliant! My kids are grown but I might just try this with the grandkids!

  59. Amy says:

    Chalk. On the pavement or patio. Limited mess and the rain washes it away afterwards 😀

  60. hillary says:

    Have you seen those watercolor colored pencils? They draw like regular colored pencils (not too messy) and then you can give them a cup of water and a paintbrush…as they paint over what they colored, it turns into watercolor paint. It is not very messy and it has two phases so it takes longer. I have my daughter draw several pictures before she gets to do the water part, so she is a little art factory, with almost zero set up and cleanup.

  61. Amber Dusick says:

    Haven’t tried those yet! Thanks for the idea!

  62. Amber Dusick says:

    LOL @ “mom craft” that is so true.

  63. I have two toddlers to please, so I roll out butcher paper in the backyard and let them paint with their feet, bodies, what have you. Afterward (since it is summer and a million degrees outside), I turn on the sprinkler. Keeps them occupied close to an hour and give me time to finish a journal entry, embroidery, or a sketch…

  64. Chandra says:

    Just wanted you to know that with twins I managed an Option 1/Option 2 Combo today, but thanks to this post I could laugh about it instead of screaming. Thanks so much for that.

  65. Yaffa says:

    That is absolute genius! I wonder if I can fit my twins + supples in the tub…

  66. Jess says:

    You illustrate my life. Except I have girls, so mine is a little more high-pitched.

    I’ve mostly given up on art except for the token easel in the living room (which is there so I ‘look’ like an awesome mom, right).

    I strip the girls. I squirt a puddle or two of washable paint or washable finger paint on the shower wall or floor. I walk away. I sometimes return to take a photo of the eldest posing as the incredible hulk. I return at some point and turn the water on and squirt soap on them. Art-done. Shower for the day-done. Mess contained=happy momma.

  67. Ms Pink says:

    lol – sounds familiar! We now only do painting outside in the summer with minimal clothing and a hose close by 🙂

  68. OH, we TOTALLY do art all the time. My almost 2 year old and I had an AMAZING time making a card for an honorary aunt of his…it culminated in me desperately trying to press his paint-covered hand onto a piece of paper for a touching toddler handprint, which would be the focal point of said card. And he wriggled away screaming, flinging toddler handprints all over the kitchen. During the tantrum, he flipped the watercolor tray over onto said card. The resulting splatter of rainbow color was pure artistic genius. Card: complete.

  69. Anna says:

    I have two words for you: Color Wonder. It is the most awesome thing ever invented. The colors only draw on the special paper so it doesn’t get on everything else. The markers are my favorite, super easy to set out, play with and clean up. In fact, I am sitting next to my 2 year old right now who is happly playing with her color wonder markers as I surf the web. Yay!

  70. LOL, I so understand your frustration!

  71. Linda says:

    I like to let them paint with water based textas. You draw a bit and then add water to the page to turn it to paint. Not so messy yet still effective.

  72. Michelle says:

    You can add a little dish soap to paint. It’s cheaper than buying gloppy finger paint, and does make clean up faster, and easier.

  73. Cynthia says:

    I HATE dry erase markers! Now they make dry erase crayons, too, which are just as bad.

  74. destinygrzegorczyk says:

    LOL I just started reading your blogs and i love them it is so true i got my 2 1/2 year old daughter and easil with chalk on one side and dry earse makers on the other and she was playing happly so i acually sit down to watch her and i am just in time to see her start drawing like mad on the chaldboard side with the dry earse markers ahh yes such is the luck of a mother

  75. liz says:

    this is completely true…besides my own two children i worked at a daycare and prep time vs interacting time is spot on, so frustrating!

  76. Kathryn says:

    A woman I know has her daughters paint in the bath tub (no clothes) and tapes the paper to the wall of the shower. When they are done, it’s bath time!

  77. Gia says:

    Yeah, after a ruined-clothing, child-scrubbing, floor re-washing (several times) experience, I got smart. I blew some serious change on those Crayola markers that only work on special paper…it is SO much better than having to replace the carpeting or taking a toothbrush to the ceramic.

  78. Sarah says:

    This may have already been shared, and if so sorry, but you should let them do watercolor in the tub. Self contained, easy clean-up, and if the paint stains you can Magic Eraser it. (You can’t Magic Eraser the kid though, apparently there’s some chemical in it that’s bad. For kids.)

  79. Jaye says:

    you might be my hero! another idea might be one of those little kiddy pools outside – same idea, and you get to literally hose them off! hehehe!

  80. Jaye says:

    I love this idea! you rock!

  81. Anne says:

    The pool would probably work indoors too. I wished for one when I gave the girls dry rice or beans and measuring utensils to play with. Originally they prefered the sound made by throwing it on the floor.

  82. Felicity says:


  83. Leah says:

    I do art with our toddlers:
    1) We go outside to paint stones and tree barks with watercolors. They love it. (They get undressed before going back into the house.)
    2) We paint at home BUT, I sit next to them the entire time AND *I* hand out one colour at a time. If they are done with one colour then they can have another one or come back to the same. And I limit the number of available colours to four.
    This way its fun for them AND for me!

  84. Katie says:

    LOL! Very funny! Also, they do make painting things that they just “paint” water onto the paper and the colors just MAGICALLY appear, lol. I highly recommend it.

  85. Val says:

    I put my toddler in her high chair with the water colors! I also tend to only do this if she is needing a bath anyway, because bath after painting is inevitable.

  86. Amanda N. says:

    We don’t paint often (mostly because I’m lazy and sort of dread all that prep/clean-up), but when we do it’s done outside in the nude. Well, the baby is nude, I wear the same crappy clothes I wear when we need to paint a room. That way, most of the cleam up is left to Mother Nature. (It’s my understanding that she doesn’t mind.) 🙂

  87. Elaine says:

    We only have one Art Scenario. We paint outside with powdered paint you mix with water. She (5) ends up painting on the walls, and then has so much fun washing of off again with some soapy water. BEST scenario all round. (

  88. Kate says:

    So funny, I’m an art teacher, lots of prep and step by step repeated instructions. Love your blog!

  89. Elly says:

    For Busy days we like-
    printing off some big coloring sheets,
    then sorting Mummies big box of buttons into colors (half hour entertainment)
    then using said buttons to place on the pictures (no glue)…several minutes per picture…
    then big ones can take there own photo’s and start again with a new picture!…..

    The print3ed pictures can then be recycled with other color / paint methods on different days.

    also laminated pictures can have plastacine (modelling clay) squished onto them to make 3D pictures…

    fun and relatively clean fun…well my three love it 🙂

  90. amy says:

    buy a tray of watercolours immediately! this was happening all the time in my house as well… then my mum suggested the watercolours and SO much better… the set up easy- grab paper, brush and a cup of water… and the clean up is way easier- snap the lid back down and do a quick wipe down (or invest in a plastic mat that you put down first and then you can skip the wipe down part as well!)
    the pour ouw paints are only for special “outside” crafting sessions now…

  91. Jenny says:

    But did you save or take pictures of the face-prints? Imagine the bargaining power those will give you with teenagers!
    Bathtub/kiddy-pool containment is a great idea for painting, if you can get the kids to stay in… Mine weren’t big on that. I also bought old sheets at thrift stores to use as drop cloths; just let them dry between projects and throw away when you can’t fold them anymore.
    They do make drop-cloth sorts of things for under high chairs, a couple of different (both huge) sizes and pretty cheap, but I like my disposables!

  92. Shelby says:

    I am dying with laughter. DYING WITH LAUGHTER. You have just captured my daily life perfectly (underscore and highlight) and I love you for it. Thank you.

  93. Lisa says:

    There is another scenario! 🙂 Art outside. Just outside. All you have to do is hose everything off afterward. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter if the grass is purple. Plus, it doesn’t seem as bad to sit there drinking a cocktail at 1pm if you are outside. 🙂

  94. Hugo Guessit says:

    This is exactly why, even though I find it to be a bit pricey, there are now paints that only work on certain kinds of paper. When my girls were young, I got them dry erase boards and an easel that has dry erase on one side, with a clip for them to put paper on for drawing/painting if they want and on the other side is a chalk board. However, I will admit that my daughters have never been creators of mess the way I see others having (my sister who introduced me to this site, for example).

  95. the.mrs says:

    haaaa! The story of my LIFE!!! 😉

    We’ve discovered oil pastels. I guard the table like a hawk!!! But they love them and get minimally dirty. And they’re so versatile!

    Most fun thing ever: sending art supplies & messy play stuff (think moon sand and finger paint) to non-artsy friends’ kids for their birthdays!!! BEST text messages ever. 🙂

  96. Mary says:

    Another scenario:
    4-year-old: “Mommy, mine won’t be as good as yours, so can you just do it?”
    Me: “It doesn’t have to be perfect, just have fun!”
    4-year-old: “I won’t do it.”
    And then we negotiate who is going to paint which part of the pictures, and it’s no fun for anyone. I’ve been doing her art since she could hold a crayon. Actually, I push it every way I possibly can to encourage her to do it herself, and sometimes she does–but this is so often where we end up. And then the 2-year-old wants to be the same as the older one, so then I’m painting terribly ugly (I suck at this!)birds, dogs, you name it as fast as I can on both papers until I decide I’ve had enough of entertaining/doing art for both kids, and then they decide they’re done, too, because Mommy is no fun anymore. Drives me crazy!!! Not that I envy paint all over the walls…but at least they’re doing it by themselves? 🙂

  97. Bethany says:

    Ok, I realize I am two years late to the party, and I don’t know if you’ll even see this. But I just discovered your blog, and it is the best. I have two young children who love making art. I also have a fine arts degree. You cannot imagine the dreams of art projects I have long harbored. My kids make fantastic art most of the time, but they always make a fantastic mess. I discovered the best way to do it, though. Lay out huge house painter’s drop cloths in the grass, driveway, patio, or any outdoor space where it won’t matter if they get paint all over the place. Then make sure that you have a garden hose handy (this really only works in warmer weather. In winter, just make cookies or something). I buy big sheets of heavy paper or rolls of canvas (available by the yard at JoAnn’s or Michael’s or whatever crafts/sewing supply store you have), lay it out on the drop cloths, and get house paint trays and brushes (big, and so much cheaper than artists brushes, plus they can really take a beating, since they’re utilitarian). I buy actual house paint, too, because it’s so much cheaper for so much more, and latex house paint is water-soluble. I pour paint in the trays, strip them down naked or to their diaper, and let them step, fling, roll, and splatter the paint all over this vast space. They LOVE it. As soon as they’re done, I hose them off in the driveway and hose down any footprints they may have left behind. Then I send them to play on the swing set while I clean up. I just dump the excess paint back into the cans, and hose out the trays and brushes. I lay the artwork itself on a drop cloth on our craft table to dry, and voila! There is paint all over my driveway now, but who cares? It’s not on my kitchen floor. My little one still tries to eat it, and it gets in their hair, but if you wash them quickly enough, it comes right out. You can buy low VOC paint for safer art-making. It still takes a while for set-up and clean-up, but because it’s such a high-intensity, full-body painting process, they almost always spend an hour playing in the paint and dancing around on the canvas.

  98. Freya says:

    At least they’re only getting ink on themselves not on the walls/floor/ceiling 😀

    ps, your posts are amazing! They make me giggle a lot.. which is awkward when I’m on public transport ^-^