The other day I decided it was high time I get Eli involved in some painting activities. He has done a little bit of painting at school, but it didn’t seem to make much of an impression on him. I picked up some chunky paint brushes and some watercolors in preparation.
I’m not sure how he did it, but he managed to reach way into the fenced off sewing are (a.k.a dining room) and snagged the brushes off of the ironing board where I had placed them when unloading the bag from the store.
I have no idea what happened to the watercolors. Perhaps we have an out-of-season leprechaun problem? I’m sure they will show up eventually as I bought two sets on separate shopping trips. In the meantime Eli was beside himself needing to paint RIGHT NOW!
Luckily, I had a set of acrylic poster paints in the house. I mixed a glob of green and another of blue into small dishes of water. Eli, paper and paint came together in his high chair.
He was entranced! I love the expression of serious focus and concentration he gets on his face while painting. You can tell this is serious work and not some frivolous game to him! We will have to work on the concept that a picture can be “done” while unused paint still remains. Either that or I just have to offer less paint for a while. When he had finished there was a beautiful but very sloshy lake of paint in the middle of his paper.
The next morning my boy, who normally will sleep at least until 8 a.m. and often until 9:30 if we don’t have anywhere to go in the morning, was up at 5:30! He cut his wake-up nursing session drastically short (which NEVER happens) and grabbed his paint brushes. He made it clear that it was imperative he get started immediately, and no time to waste!
I gave him back the dried painting from the day before and some yellow paint. This time I didn’t thin the paint and I gave him one of my thinner paintbrushes. Once again he worked away with incredible focus and concentration. (This is the child who could not sit down for more than 30 seconds ever or remain with one activity longer than 2 minutes just 6 months ago!)
I’m thrilled Eli loves painting. Fine Art was my major in college. After much dabbling in many different mediums I focused on painting for my senior show. I haven’t done a lot of painting since those days but the love is still there.
Going forward… I need to make an easel for Eli. I would love for him to have the ability to go and begin to paint independently. Of course, there will be a fair amount of supervision and practice of expected behavior leading up to that. You know, small considerations such as using a smock and loaded paintbrushes staying in the painting area!
Our highchair painting extravaganza has left us with a very stained highchair tray. The sun, which does a great job of quickly bleaching out food stains, doesn’t begin to touch these! I rarely use chlorine bleach but perhaps I’ll have to now. Maybe you have a different suggestion?
I also need to lay in a supply of non-toxic paint. I wasn’t completely comfortable with letting him use the acrylic poster paints that are not meant for toddlers. I am learning that in the Waldorf tradition, high quality art materials are used. Cheap children’s materials (think Rose Art brand crayons) can frustrate and turn kids off. Eli is too young now to care if his paint brush sheds a bristle now and then into his work, but I remember as a child being upset by that happening. And just as children tend to take better care of their toys when they have fewer, higher quality toys, the same applies to the judicious use and care of art supplies. Honestly though, at this stage I think the main concern is safety. When Eli reaches the stage of greater intentionality in what he is trying to create the quality will be a greater factor of consideration for me. Right now he seems to be driven more by the joy of the process.
I’m not sure about the expense of using the “good stuff”. I would like to encourage Eli to be free to create and experiment to his heart’s content and not feel like I have to ration supplies that are too precious. I’m also wary of the attitude that one needs to buy only “approved” materials from Waldorf suppliers. But the jury is still out as I haven’t yet had the time to do my research. I’m sure I’m not the first parent with this concern. I’m off to find out how other families have provided eco-friendly, non-toxic, good quality art supplies for their budding Rembrandts without breaking the bank. If you have any ideas to share please leave a comment.
Mama’s got some readin’ to do.
Thanks for stopping by!