Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lower Stress Painting

Painting is a fantastic activity.  It allows for creativity as the child makes her own design. It fosters scientific learning as the child learns how textures and colors mix.  It even contributes to a correct pencil grip, especially if you are diligent enough to attach the canvas to the wall.

Painting is also really stressful for moms like me.  Please notice I used the present tense verb.   I would not choose to paint in my free time.  I would not choose messy little fingers while renting a house painted with flat paint.  But, my daughter chooses painting weekly, and I want to free her to go beyond my struggles.  Here are a few strategies I employ to survive while she thrives.

1.  Put an adult size t-shirt on the child, and use a clothespin to shrink the neck hole so that none of her clothing shows.

2.  Cover the table with newspapers.

3.  Use washable paint from squeeze bottles.  Water colors are fun, but my kids destroy them.  My sister, who would know, says that they are a difficult medium to master.  We'll save them for later.

4.  Use divided trays to hold the paint while painting.  Mine came from Hobby Lobby, but you could also just use an old egg carton.  By putting the paint in divided trays, it more or less stays distinct, unless of course my artist wants to have the mixed look. Because I dole out the paint from squeezable bottles, I can always give more yellow if the old yellow has been used to make green.

5.  Use lots of paint brushes, more than one per color.  That way we do not have to wash any brushes until we are totally finished.

6.  Sit down and paint with her.   Putting my energy into creating beside her helps me relax.  It keeps me at arms length in case of a spill or need for more paint.  She seems to enjoy it, and I would like to think it encourages her in a healthy activity.

7.   Before painting, fill an old bottle with clean water to use for cleaning brushes. Here is how we make cleaning up into a quick science add-on.

When everything is dry, the master pieces can go on the refrigerator, and the materials go back in the gallon bag, ready for another day.

This is an area where I would like to continue to grow.  Do you have a hint to add?


  1. Those are great tips, Christy. This post reminds me so much of when my kids were young. Another tip I'd add is one my wife discovered. The local newspaper often had leftover rolls of newsprint, the ends that didn't have enough left to use in the printing presses.

    That still left a couple hundred yards of paper, though, and they sold them for just a couple bucks. We'd take the roll and lay paper out the length of a table. Then the kids can paint or draw or whatever, sometimes on their projects and sometimes directly on the newsprint! Two dollars of newsprint can last for months of keeping table tops clean.


    1. Tim,

      That's a great idea, I'm going to give the newspaper office a call. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to hear what other tips you and your wife have accumulated.