Children and Art Supplies…
One of the big frustrations of my young life was not having enough paper to draw on. To be fair, I don’t really blame my parents. My poor mother would buy a pad of blank paper and, if memory serves correctly, my sister and I would decimate it within a week. I imagine it got expensive.
Down the street, the neighbor’s father was an alderman. He received reams of reports every week which he read and threw into a box when he was done. The kids were allowed to use the back of the paper to draw on. It was an endless supply of paper and a little slice heaven whenever I went over to play.
Let’s be clear, I was not creating masterpieces when I went to play at the neighbor’s house. I remember drawing page after page of really stupid cartoony tulips one day. I probably went through 25 sheets of paper. I left them behind and I imagine they were in the trash can soon after I left. My neighbor never marched back down the street to return my visionary work to my mother!
Still…to have 25 pieces of paper to waste was a huge and lovely luxury. To be honest, I could have drawn 100 or 500 tulips and not made a dent in that endless pile of paper. I could create as much as I wanted and not have to worry about wasting all of the paper. It was wonderful.
When I had my own kids, I dedicated the biggest cabinet in my kitchen to art supplies so that they could be pulled out and used at the kitchen table at any time. There was always plenty of paper, scissors, glue and paint. I would save magazines for collage, reuse clean cardboard from food containers and repurpose wrapping paper. I made homemade play-dough and paper-mache. Most of the supplies were inexpensive or free. I tried to give them as much creative space as I could without creating too much chaos. It was a balance and sometimes required a fair amount of patience, but I wanted my children to feel free to express themselves and to explore. I did not want them to be frustrated, as I was, by a lack of very simple materials.
I didn’t care if the kids made a mess*. They worked in the kitchen. I had smocks for them to wear made from old t-shirts and a plastic table cloth I would put on the floor if things really started getting out of hand. But mostly, I just let them have fun and do what they wanted. Soap and water took care of the dirty hands and spills.
Does providing ample art supplies make children more creative? Maybe, maybe not. But, if it’s not available, then they can’t even try. Or, maybe creative kids will just do what they need to do and and run down to the neighbors who will feed them their art fix with boxes and boxes of paper!
You can Laura Morrison’s artwork at LauraMorrisonArt.com
*FYI: In the interest of full disclosure, I did have my limits. The only art supply that I severely limited was glitter. Glitter can be used for good, but mostly, it’s just plain evil and a total bitch to clean up. A pox on glitter!