Adult Art Project, Art Project, Kid's Art Project, Messy Art, Process Art

Sometimes Art Is Messy

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So one thing that I find I am constantly saying is, “Sometimes art is messy.” In our culture we tend to have a fear of mess. This fear can act as an inhibitor to our creativity. We tell our children, “Don’t make a mess.” We tell ourselves, “I can’t do that it is too messy.” Sometimes though it is good to embrace the mess, to let it in. When we let go of all that control we can begin to feel free to be creative. In my last post I wrote about sensory art play for infants and toddlers. It is probably the messiest class that I lead. It is a ton of fun. In order to enjoy it though one must let go of the need to be tidy. It is a pretty easy sell for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, It is somewhat acceptable for very young kids to get messy. They after all are messy with pretty much everything they do! It is a much more difficult sell for older children,  and even more difficult for adults. My argument though is that there is a time and a place for being messy, and that it can be quite freeing to our creative nature to allow ourselves and our children to embrace the creative mess on occasion. After all, “Sometimes Art Is Messy!”

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Messy hands of all ages enjoying the process of art.

Some of my favorite projects are the result of messy art. Once you let go and embrace the process of messy art, some really cool things can happen. For me this is where art meets mindfulness.

  1. You get in the flow. You become in tune with the moment.
  2. You let go of a need for control. You let the process unfold.
  3. You have fun. When you are not so worried about controlling the art, you are able to just enjoy it.

Fluid Acrylic Art

 

Fluid acrylic or ink pours like the one in the video above are a perfect example of letting go and embracing the process. This is a very messy technique and it is quite difficult to control the outcome, but if you can embrace the mess and let go of your need to control it then you begin to realize just how interesting and enjoyable it is to watch paint move! Sometimes you love the finished painting, and sometimes you don’t. Not all art is meant for a gallery wall or even the refrigerator. I find this method of creating to be quite therapeutic. For me it allows me to become present in the moment. It gives me a reset and a change in mindset and attitude.

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Fluid Acrylic Pours

String Painting

A favorite messy art project of mine is string painting. I have done this project with preschoolers, school age children, and adults. This method is always fun, always messy, and always satisfying! I love how they turn out. They remind me of my favorite flowers, the calla lily.

string art collage

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Shaving Cream Marbling

Who does not love playing with shaving cream, right? It has a pleasant scent, and fluffy texture, and best of all it is so much fun to use as a marbling medium. Once you have marbled your papers you can use them in so many ways. They can become collage papers for future projects or backgrounds for more detailed paintings, or even journal pages.

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Shaving cream marbling is fun for all ages.
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Finished Marbled page and a collage using marbled papers.

Scrape Painting

Scrape painting is a favorite of mine for younger kids. I use this a lot for preschoolers and elementary age children. It is a great way to explore color mixing. It is quite messy but I love how these turn out! I could see adults having fun with this as well, I sure do!

scrape painting collage
The scrape painting process is super messy, but fun!!
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Finished scrape paintings always remind me of the art of Eric Carle.

Blow Painting

I have written about blow painting before here.  It is a super fun messy art project that is worth mentioning again. It is absolutely something that you have to let go of expectations and control to be able to enjoy. Young kids are really good at that. Older kids and us adults, well sometimes we need a bit of help in that area. I typically do these types of projects with preschool and elementary age children. Sometimes we turn our splatters into more “refined” art such as paint monsters or flowers. With adults I mostly have done blown paint with alcohol inks, but the idea is the same and te results are similar!

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Preschooler blowing paint splatters.
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Flower blown paint art by elementary age kids.
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Flower blown art by me! Made with alcohol inks

I hope that you and the kiddos in your life will try out some of these fun messy at projects at some point. Yes they are very messy, but the mess is worth the experience.

A fun little bit of info: The name of this blog Art-Breaks, came from some of my experiences with messy art! Last year, when I still had my art studio, my friend used to pop in on her lunch break for art time. We made some huge messes during these short little art breaks. We experimented with acrylic pours, and string art mostly. Several of the photos above are from those little breaks. I wish we were still able to do them. I miss it so much. Anyway these little breaks were so important to me that I named this blog after them!

Feel free to leave a comment, question, or little story about your experiences with messy art!

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Kid's Art Project, Messy Art, Preschool Art, Process Art

Sensory Art Play

Messy Baby Art

I was first introduced to the idea of Sensory Art for kids when I lived in Portland, OR. The class was offered at an art studio called Art A La Carte that I frequented with my kids. Though my kids were too old for the class I fell in love with the concept. When I moved back to Knoxville in 2015 and opened my studio,  I felt like such a class would be great fit here in Knoxville. I first began offering sensory based art classes at my studio, The Basement Community Art Studio back in 2015. Messy Baby Art Classes were geared to infants (Sitting-24 Months).  Since 2015 the class continued to grow and grow in popularity. I have had the privilege of working with so many infants and toddlers through this program. When I accepted the Job at the MUSE Knoxville  in 2018, I added a similar class there, Mess Maker Mondays. Though this class is slightly different, it has continued to offer a sensory based art experience here in Knoxville.

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Sensory art can be a full body experience.

Sensory based art is something that I am deeply passionate about. I believe that fostering this type of experience from a very young age acts as a building block to support creativity and creative play as a life long habit.  So that begs the question…

What is Sensory Art?

Child development experts agree that young children learn best when their play appeals to their senses. When children engage their senses during play, they build powerful cognitive connections. They begin to learn about the world around themselves. Young children and infants uses all of their senses to take in stimuli from the world. When they are provided with an environment rich in sensory experiences they are able to make more of these types of connections. Being able to explore this way stimulates movement from the child and strengthens their motor skills and coordination as well.
As the child plays you can add language to their experience. Give the proper names of the tools they are using. As they reach for a tool, name it. “Sponge.” or “Feather.” You can also name the colors they are using. Simply say “Blue.” when they use blue paint… Keeping the language short and clear allows them to begin to make associations between the language and the object. It is much more clear than saying something like, “Yes, you found the blue paint. Can you use the feather to paint blue on the paper.” Simple language is best.

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Sensory art play is fun for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers!

Setting up a Sensory Based Art Experience at Home

During our sensory art classes we like to offer a variety of tools and materials for the child to explore. Basic everyday household objects make great painting tools! Possible ideas include:

  • Wooden spools
  • Toilet Paper tubes
  • Bits of Yarn
  • Corks
  • Sticks
  • Pine cones
  • Leaves
  • Food (potato, celery, apple) all make fun prints
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Using a variety of materials provides diverse sensory experiences. 

Look around your home and find items with an interesting texture that are safe for the child to explore. Try to offer them a variety of different shapes and textures to explore during their art play. Be sure to use child safe, non toxic art materials. I love Blick Student grade tempera paints, they are non-toxic, gluten and peanut free,  and washable. Using a variety of tools offers the child multiple sensory stimuli, plus it provides opportunity for further language acquisition when you name the tools as we discussed above.
There are wonderful art products out there for young children that you can purchase through stores or online if you wish, but you don’t have to spend a ton of money. You can find some amazing DIY art supply recipes for tiny artists online. From craft dough to edible paints and more, the internet is filled with great ideas you can make at home with common ingredients found in most kitchens! Have fun exploring and setting up your child’s sensory art projects (This can be a great creative outlet for you too)!

Where to create?

 

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Standing at an easel or wall can be a fun way to explore paint for toddlers and preschoolers. 

Provide your child with a variety of ways to explore the art materials as well. Once the child can stand consider painting at an easel. If you don”t have an easel you can tape paper to a wall at their height. You may want to use a drop cloth or larger paper behind the paper they are painting to contain the mess and make clean up a bit easier.
If your child is not yet standing simply spread out paper on the floor for them to paint on. Remember older children also enjoy working on the floor from time to time as well! Working on the floor can give them the opportunity to work much larger, using large motor movements which can be a nice change for older children.

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It can also be fun to involve your child in the clean up!

If you are concerned about the inevitable mess consider working outside on a nice day or use an old sheet/drop cloth on the floor under their work. When the art time is over simply fold away the drop cloth and store it for next time! Another fun place to create art is in the bath tub. When art time is over just clean the baby and the mess up at the same time.

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Working at the table, splattering paint on rubber bands. 

Tables are always a great place to explore art materials, but try to provide variety for your child with their art play. If you usually paint at the table, consider trying a new spot. Often as children get older, most of their art is done at a table. This limits the size of their art as well as the motor movements they use to create their art. An occasional change in location is always exciting and keeps their art experience fresh and new!

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Large sheets of paper on the floor are always fun!

 

Keep in mind that art is messy, and the mess is part of the fun! Learn to embrace the mess as your child creates. With a little planning the mess can be easily contained and relatively easy to clean up as well!

 

Prepare for a mess

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Crawlers enjoy exploring the slippery textures.

Sensory exploration in art is often very messy, so be prepared. At the studio we recommend letting our youngest artists paint in their diapers or an old onsie. Older toddlers and children we recommend wearing old clothes paired with an art smock or apron. Most children’s art supplies are considered “washable” however, I have noticed that they do not always wash completely out. So, it is best to dress in clothing you are not too worried about. Adults facilitating messy art should also dress in clothing that can get painted…because it very likely will, lol.

Drop cloths such as a painters tarp or old sheet can help protect the ground or table around your art area, making clean up a bit easier.

Most importantly have fun and embrace the mess!

Check out this fun little video from one of my classes!

 

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