This year at Lola we have been learning and experimenting much more with process art, and although it seems like we have always had a “messy table” at the studio, this year I think we have really made the Messy Table our own! Children of all ages absolutely love the freedom, experimentation and tactile aspects of this medium, and it is especially useful when introducing Toddlers to art and painting.
What I realised all of a sudden as we moved to our Summer house for a month, is that in fact EVERYONE can have a Messy Table in their own homes! Yes, as you can tell by its name, it IS very messy, but if you choose the location of your table carefully (in the garden if the weather permits, in the corner of the kitchen close to the sink, in a playroom with a plastic table cloth underneath it to protect the flooring…), and protect the floor around the table as much as possible with an oil cloth or old tablecloth, then actually in a funny way it is controlled mess!
My tips to you are:
- Make sure that the table is at such at height that when your children are standing next to it, it reaches up to about their belly button, or at a height that they can freely paint with their hands without having to lean up or down too much.
- Make sure the table is close enough to a sink!
- It is best if the table is made of unvarnished natural wood so that paint sticks well to the surface. What we did is made a few tabletops out of cheap plywood, that we turn over or replace when they get covered with too many layers of paint and it starts to lose its flat smooth surface. (Keep in mind that at the end of each painting session it is a good idea to scrape off as much of the excess paint as possible.)
- Squeeze paint straight onto the table, and let the children experiment as much as possible with their fingers and hands. Then we give them a variety of other instruments to play around with, anything works, but we have used: old toothbrushes, rolling pins, kitchen sponges, toy cars, forks, plastic balls, big legos, fly swatters etc. Sometimes we also add shaving cream, glitter or even collage materials such as feathers, pompoms and mosaic papers.
- Make it up as you go along, but once you have either stripped your child naked or put them in a painting apron/t-shirt, just let them go wild and follow their lead! And have lots of fun!