So you want to do art with your child! Yay! The first thing you’ll want to do is create some kind of a designated art area. It doesn’t have to be an entire room. The most important thing is to have an area where kids can do art without a significant hassle to get set up! The more of a hassle it is to get started, the less likely both you and the kids are to actually do art on a regular basis. Table & chairs space: Have a project table that you don’t mind kids making messes on. This is a great excuse to keep an older table or pick up a used one. If you have a homeschool area already set aside, your table/desks can do double duty. If you have the room, it is great also to have a space where your child can leave things out instead of having to clean up totally at the end of every art session. If you’re using a big table, could things be pushed aside but left out? The easier you can make it to get supplies out and to clean up, the more likely your child is to follow his creative instincts when the mood strikes. Storage: a place to store art supplies that is also accessible for kids. This could be as simple as getting a low bookcase to store things on, putting up a few shelves that are low enough for kids to reach or getting a cart that can be rolled out when kids want to engage. Roll it into the corner when you’re doing something else in that space. This rolling cart from Blick is ideal! I’m a big fan of labeling drawers so kids know where to find supplies AND where to put them back! You could also have something like these caddies that you stock with some of the basics: pencils, brushes, markers, glue, and scissors so they are right there and totally accessible at the drop of a hat! We have a wooden one that we’ve used for years. You can also put brushes and pencils in old cans, flower pots, or yogurt containers. It doesn’t have to be fancy. If you want your containers to look nice, you could paint them, or enlist your child’s help to decorate them and label them. Yogurt, cottage cheese and other re-purposed containers are also great for paint water. The ones with lids can also come in handy for saving paint and clay that you don’t want to dry out. Protection for your floor. Some parents put down a drop cloth and leave it there. You could also use a plastic shower shower curtain or an old rug. We used an old rug that we are allowing to become “decorated” with paint that is dropped. I am also surprised how often kids like to lay on the floor when they’re creating art! If you have the room, protect enough of the floor space that your kids can choose to do art on the floor as well as the table. Space for projects to dry is an often overlooked requirement but can make creating art much easier or much more difficult! Some art projects can be stacked up immediately, but others require a day or two to dry undisturbed! You can purchase expensive drying racks, but really all you need are some empty window ledges, tables, or floor space as long as the floor space is away from your main traffic area and you aren’t worried about pets or younger children harming the artwork and getting messy. You can even repurpose an old laundry drying rack if you have extra space. Good lighting is helpful. Again, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Your space may already have pretty good light. If you can, choose a space that has both good artificial lighting and some windows for natural light. If you need to augment the artificial light in the room, something as simple as some inexpensive clamp lights or swing arm lamps will work. Give your child an old adult’s shirt or apron that you don’t mind getting ruined, to use as an art smock to protect clothing. Even paint that is water soluble and non-toxic, will stain clothing if it is not washed out immediately! Leave the smock in the art area so it’s easy for your child to put it on whenever she wants to do art. Some of my worst clothing paint disasters have been when I was just going to do this “one little thing” without putting my apron on, then I got paint on my clothing and didn’t notice it right away! Anything with pockets is extra handy. You may also want to mount some hooks on a wall or the end of a bookcase so you have a special, highly visible place to keep smocks. Easels often come to mind when we think about idyllic art spaces. But, not only are they expensive, they often are not super useful. If your child is painting with something like watercolors, that can run, easels are not the best choice. She is better off painting on a piece of paper that is laying flat on a table. And even if he is using something that could work on an easel, it will also work just fine laying on a flat surface. Easel’s take up a large amount of space, and often, you still need to have a table nearby to set things on. If you want to do something fancy in your art room, you could purchase a table-top easel. These come in many sizes and qualities and some of them fold for storage. I have several table top easels and one beautiful, expensive free-standing easel. I have to say, that functionally, I prefer the table top easels because they are easy to move and I can set whatever supplies I’m using on the table next to them. Just make sure that you get one that is meant for painting, (not just for display) and is sturdy. If an easel is a bit flimsy, your child is likely to tip it over and become frustrated. Not to mention the mess that would cause! Another fun and functional idea is a single paper roll cutter that can be mounted on a wall or on a table. Having a big roll of empty paper can spark a lot of creativity! Just be aware that it comes with a sharp blade for cutting the paper. Mounting an old-fashioned chalk board on the wall at child height, is a fun way to inspire creativity without getting too wrapped up in a permanent final product! A white marker board could also work, but since marker boards use special markers, you are opening up the possibility of kids using the wrong markers and ruining them. Plus, the chalk board has a fun old-fashioned vibe. It’s a bonus if you have a way to display finished projects. One super easy way to do this is to hang wire or string (think clothes line) and then attach artwork with binder clips or clothes pins. There are many creative ways to display kids’ artwork. We’ll get into that in another blog post. If you’ve set up your space and you need some projects, don’t forget to check out our boxes! Happy creating!