Important points to remember:
- Have your camera ready to catch the artist in action.
- Have several old washcloths and a bucket of water handy.
- Get everything set up before you bring the child to the painting 'center'.
- Use only non - toxic, water based poster or tempera paint!
- Don't use water colors. They are too frustrating for young kids as the colors make 'mud' quickly.
- Limit the number of colors to 2 or 3, with white, to start with. For more 'attractive' finished pieces use colors that are adjacent on the color wheel, like purple, red and blue. If you want to have the child use colors that are opposite on the color wheel, like purple and yellow, use one color then let it dry before using the second color. You may still get a little mixing (therefore brown/grays) but not nearly as much.
- Tape up a really large piece of heavy paper, illustration board or scrap mat board on a wall. Make sure it is really securely attached. And try to keep the tape only on the back or the very edges of the painting surface. Or use a child's easel if you have one...they are great gifts.
- Use chubby brushes, with short handles.
- Lids from ice cream pails work great as palettes, if you want to wash it or toss it. See below.
- Put a paint shirt on the child, and an apron on yourself and wear old clothes both of you!
- Let the child 'have at it' - show how to dip the brush in the paint and then on the paper. Give praise!
- Encourage explorations - of color mixing, line and mark making. Please don't worry about rinsing out the brush between colors. Kids will lose interest quickly and mixing paint is most of the fun...as you will see on the palette!
- Let the child paint her/his hands and 'print' them on the paper, too.
- Most toddlers will be 'finished' quickly!
- Let the painting dry. Come back to it later to add more or frame it up! Preschool paintings are especially cute framed with a photo of the child making the art work in a double mat inside one frame. One more idea: use a thick paper palette - like another piece of illustration board or mat board and frame that with the art and the photo!