A wonderful woman and friend once told me that the best way to help your little ones fall in love with art is to purchase quality materials. Now. My eldest was two years old when I first heard these words of wisdom and, at that time, I was happy enough to purchase art supplies at the dollar store but, of late, I’ve become really aware of what she was referring to. The masterpieces that my daughter creates have so much more impact when we are working with quality brushes, paint and paper. But I will stand by this statement too: nowhere can you get such awesome sparkle glue as the dollar store and it’s the only place I’ve yet to track down contact paper (without which we would be lost)! So it’s a balance I suppose.
I’ve also discovered another lovely truth about art in preschool. It is so much more meaningful for a child to work on a piece while keeping in mind the individual for whom it is being created. The last two weeks, we puttered away at our watercolour valentines with doilies (guess where I found those…) and she literally sang a song for each of her friends as she painted. Afterwards, she made sure I properly labeled each work so that the correct valentine would go to the intended recipient. She absolutely was injecting her heart into each of the pieces she made.
Althea also received the most lovely gift from her friend Morgan who worked with her mother to make these pretty little rainbow crayons in the shape of hearts. Nothing compares to creating art for a friend with materials made by a friend!
Well my heart is full as we start into this Valentine’s weekend! If you are thinking of starting a new medium with your little one, here are a few quality materials I can strongly recommend for beginning watercolour. In the case of the paints, a little dab’ll do ya and you will have these tubes for, well, in my case, it’s been over a decade. With respect to the brushes – remember always to use them with watercolour only since they are costly but worth every cent.
My recommendation with respect to technique is to wet the paper itself in a sink of warm water and squeegie out the excess with a sponge on your painting surface. This way the colour itself stays relatively dry in the paint pot and mixing colours on paper becomes more of an organic process than a concerted effort. At the preschool stage, colour mixing in this way becomes a lovely process of discovery. We work with primary colours only right now and with these we are beginning to learn about the different secondary colours – orange, green and purple as they suddenly appear in our masterpiece!
Keep refreshing a glass of warm water for your little artist so as to keep the paints themselves from getting muddled together and also because it’s fun to periodically check on how the work is progressing. Hopefully, each time you enter the room you will see your little one falling deeper in love with art and with the pride of self-expression it permits.