Today I was having a conversation with an acquaintance about children’s artwork and the service that Artful Kids provides. Many people comment that the finished result makes a good gift idea for grandparents, and she announced on hearing this that she didn’t think her parents would appreciate it because they have ‘proper art’ on their walls. I was genuinely shocked at this attitude, which may or may not have reflected the attitude of her parents, and thought that it was actually quite sad and insulting to children. Why is children’s artwork not considered to be ‘proper art’? Surely it is the way it is presented or regarded that determines how ‘proper’ it is. A tatty bit of paper on the fridge is admittedly not going to look too impressive stuck on the living-room wall, but properly presented it can look as good (and sometimes a lot better) than any adult’s work.
Children have a directness and honesty about their work that adults can only aspire to. Many famous artists have consciously striven to achieve the same, knowing that in reality they are doomed to fail because of the years of knowledge and experience that interfere with what we see. Children also have a lack of self-consciousness in their artwork that adults tend to lose – they simply don’t have the same inhibitions – an enviable state to be in.
The conversation made me think that I may have an uphill struggle to convince people that a child’s artwork is no less worthy of consideration than that of an adult, or of presenting well. In fact the whole idea of taking a child’s artwork and presenting it in different ways, seems to be an alien concept – on a number of occasions I’ve been met with confused looks when I have attempted to explain what I do. Still there’s nothing like a challenge, and I shall continue with my missionary zeal!
Anyway I think it’s time to step off my soap box now, and move onto something more creative as I promised in my last post. I said last week that this time I’d look at how to use some of the mountains of artwork that you sometimes acquire (at least I do, since I can never bear to throw any of it away!) to make cards, gift tags, bookmarks or nursery art. The idea is really simple but surprisingly effective, and involves treating the painting as if it were a piece of decorative paper, and then using it to cut out simple shapes. These can either be drawn freehand, or alternatively some of the kids stencils that are available can be used if you’re not confident of your drawing skills.
The following is a list of ways you can use the technique, or enhance it:
- Simple squares and rectangles mounted onto a plain card can look really effective – especially if the name of the child is handwritten beneath to give a personal touch.
- The different effects you can achieve are endless, since the item can be further decorated with accents such as sequins, jewels, or glitter glue.
- The shapes themselves can be mounted onto simple painted backgrounds, or just plain white or coloured card.
- For Christmas cards, the paintings can be cut into small squares and rectangles, which can be used to look like gift-wrapped parcels with the addition of glitter glue for ribbon ties for example – a really simple way of creating personalised Christmas cards. I made cards using this technique 2 years ago with my then 3 year old son. I had to give him quite a bit of help, but he was able to choose the pieces of paper and stick them on and the finished cards were really effective. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photographs at the time!
The technique can also be used to create effective framed nursery art.