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Setting Up a Painting Studio

Children can paint in many settings. Here are a few ideas to help you set up your studio space. You don't need a perfect setting; depending on your situation, you may need to improvise. The main motto is: Keep it simple and available to children.

Painting places or studios can be arranged easily and be quite efficient. If you do not have the best possible place, remember that the principles of creativity and the spirit of the method are what count.

Home Setting for One or Two Children
Finding a place: A wall works as well as an easel - you can cover it with soft fiberboard for gripping tacks, or with a piece of cardboard to which you can tape paper. You can also create a painting place by covering a wall with wrapping paper or plastic and using masking tape or thumbtacks to hold paper. I recommend that children paint standing up. It keeps stamina going and allows them to use larger sheets of paper. Get a clip-on lamp to light the paper and a small table or shelf to hold the paints and brushes. Protect the floor with a carpet remnant or a piece of cardboard.

For palettes, put paint in ice cube or muffin trays, a different color in each hole. Fill only halfway. I recommend water-based paint like tempera. Offer at least eight colors; the more the better.

When children use the palette, always make sure that colors do not get mixed or dirty. Always keep a clean palette. If a new color is needed, mix it in a new place; metal jar lids work well.

On the paint table set two jars (plastic or glass) of water, one for dipping brushes with dark paint, one for brushes with light paint. Another empty jar could hold different-sized brushes. Always stand the brushes with bristles pointing up. Brushes should never stand on their bristles.

Gather a few brushes of different sizes, including a very small one for details. I recommend pointed brushes. Teardrop-shaped brushes are best. Use a spray bottle to moisten drying paints. Have tissues and rags available and a rounded knife to mix colors. An apron with a pocket always helps.

When the painting session is finished, spray the palette with water and cover it with plastic; then put it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and ready to use at all times. The paint will keep for months or even a year if it is kept moist. Instead of tempera, other options include watercolors, markers, crayons, and felt pens.

More on: Crafts for Kids

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From Kids Play: Igniting Children's Creativity by Michele Cassou. Copyright © 2004 by Michele Casso. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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