Monday, October 6, 2014

How to Make a Child's Drawing Look Like Fine Art

Who's to know that you didn't spend hundreds of dollars on this
"limited edition lithograph?"
Only my five-year old grandson knows for sure.    
Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

I’ve always been fascinated by the art that children create.

When they fool around with crayons and paper they don’t know they are creating something unique. They’re just having fun.

That in itself makes their art valuable.

But it’s also valuable to a home stager, because children’s art is fresh, colorful and simple. It has an honesty and directness that accomplished artists strive for. So, why not use it to decorate the walls of your home on the market?

When my children were young, I always made sure we had plenty of paper, crayons, watercolors, colored pencils, scissors…the stuff of inspiration. Whenever I praised their work, the usual response was, “But Mom, it doesn’t look like anything,” or “It’s messy!” And I would say, “Wait until I take you to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

And when they were preteens, I took them there. And I think they got it.

The thing is, kids lose their candor and free spirit. They begin to judge their artistic endeavors as objects instead of a way to play. They compare what they produce to big people's art and they lose that naivet√© that made their work so special.

When you decorate walls with art, presentation is everything. Framing’s usually essential. And this is especially true of children’s art. The frame is what announces to the viewer that here is something to be taken seriously, albeit secretly tongue-in-cheek in the case of kid art.

How to Acquire Kid Art
I wrapped an old frame in grasscloth wallpaper to make this
simple line drawing -- signed by the artist! -- look legitimate.

You don’t need to browse snobby galleries, take a trip to Paris, or spend big bucks to collect some drop dead gorgeous abstract drawings and paintings for home staging. You just need a kid. If your household doesn’t include one, ask to borrow a relative or neighbor. The best artists are between the ages of three and seven.

You simply need to set the stage. Supply the materials and stand back. But don’t go away. Because the secret to getting good results is to stop the process at the perfect juncture.

For children, creating art is a process, not a goal. That’s why paintings get muddy and drawings turn into tangles of scribbles. Your job is to be ready to say, “Stop,” and claim the drawing or canvas.

Canvas? Yes, canvas. Children can crank out abstract canvases to rival many contemporary artists. Here are the steps I took when my daughter was five and I knew she would soon outgrow her natural, unedited artistic sensibilities. 


The Medium, the Method
 
I gave her a primed canvas, a brush or two, a container of water, and a plastic plate (her palette) where I had squeezed just a few different acrylic artist’s colors. I chose the colors, and that is the other secret to ending up with something you can actually use.  

Then, I stood back and watched carefully for that moment when going further with her creation would ruin it. Be ready to whisk it away. I guarantee results. You can use the same technique for pastel drawings, colored pencil renderings, crayon work, tempura and water colors, or finger paints.

Sometimes it takes the artist doing a few pieces of work before you find one to love and frame. You might have to make a suggestion. "Draw a picture of yourself." Or, "Paint some flowers." Their best art will happen when a child forgets about you and loses himself in painting or drawing.    
One of the handy elements of kid art is that you can often hang it upside down
or sideways, however it works best for you. My daughter did this painting
35 years ago and it still hangs in my home.  

Don’t give children “art crutches” like stickers and stencils. I'm not a fan of markers, either. Never say, "What is it?" Instead praise them and say, "Tell me about your picture." Let their natural talents develop. Give them good quality brushes and paper and paints. Don't ask them for digital art because it's the primitive quality you're after.

Once those scribbles and finger paintings are dry, it's time for serious treatment.  Almost any kind of frame works well for children’s art. If it goes under glass, make sure the mat is substantially wide to give the art importance, focus, and size.

Don't junk up a whole wall with a variety of kid art. That destroys the illusion that this is a carefully curated piece. Hang the art in a prominent place, not squirreled away in a bathroom or -- worse yet -- the child’s own room. It’s too important for that!

Discover more ways to stage your own home on your own schedule and within your own budget. Download my home staging $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar.   


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