Crafty Blogs

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Display Ideas No. 4

Artwork Hanging System

And finally... For my last post of 2009 I'm sharing a display idea which I found over at the Madhouse. It's basically an improved version of the old 'washing-line' display, but I think looks much neater and smarter, as it uses metal tension wires and clips (the kind you can get for hanging curtains).  It's really simple and effective, and you can change the pictures so easily.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Display Ideas No.3

RIBBA Picture Ledge - IKEA

I came across this idea, or more accurately 2 ideas, at Ikea.  Again, they're really simple and effective, like all the best ideas, and they don't cost a great deal.  The first is the RIBBA picture ledge.  This is a narrow shelf (available in white or black and in a variety of lengths) which is specifically intended for pictures in frames to sit on, propped against the wall.  A small retaining edge on the shelf ensures that the frames don't slide off.  It's a very flexible way of displaying pictures, which can be changed really easily without having to knock nails or pins in the wall.  You can use just a single shelf as shown here, or several at different heights, and of course it's not just suitable for displaying kids artwork, but can be used for any framed picture. I really like this idea, and intend to use it myself, though I'm a bit concerned about my ability to put it up straight!

I was really pleased when I came across this photo, as it combined in one image the 2 ideas from Ikea that I wanted to share. The second idea uses the simple, cheap, colourful frames that Ikea produce, to create a colourful display of kids artwork.  The NYTTJA frames are available in a variety of sizes and bright colours, with plastic glazing which is much safer for kids rooms.  Used together, either on a picture ledge as shown here, or grouped together on a wall, I think they create a really striking display.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Display Ideas No.2

Frames Wallpaper

This product has been around for a couple of years, so you may have come across it before, but I think it's a lovely idea for use in a child's bedroom or playroom.  Kids can either colour in the frames directly, or alternatively you can stick paintings and drawings onto the frames.  It's available from Graham and Brown.  At £25 a roll, it's not especially cheap as  wallpaper goes, but then I think it's something you could use in just a small area, as it might be a bit overpowering to do a whole room with it. I've always rather liked the idea of giving kids permission to decorate their own environment by drawing or painting directly on the walls - though it worries me slightly for younger children, who may not recognise the difference between the specific areas where they are allowed to do it, and any other wall they might feel inclined to embellish!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Display Ideas No.1

Inflatable Masterpiece Frame

This week, on the run up to Christmas I thought I'd do a completely unseasonal series of mini-posts on display ideas for kids artwork. The first is an item I spotted while out and about last week. The 'Instant Masterpiece' is an inflatable gilt frame for displaying photos, paintings, whatever you want really.  It will display images of up to 10x8".  I haven't tried it out myself, but I thought for just £4.79, it was quite a fun idea for displaying kids artwork.  Anyway if anyone fancies it, it's available here from Amazon.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Glue, Glitter & Pinecones

I'm sure everyone has made glittery pinecones before at some time or another - after all they're not rocket science, but the idea is so simple, and we had so many pinecones that my elder son had collected, that I thought we'd make some.  We have a very minimal, artificial twiggy tree, so I thought they'd look good hung on that, though I think they would also look good either individually or grouped together in a bowl, as table decorations (a considerably cheaper alternative to Kirsty's gilded pears, if anyone watched her Handmade Christmas!)

I thought it was a simple enough activity for my 3 and 5 year olds to join in - and in theory it is. The 5 year old made quite a few, but unfortunately the just turned 3 year old got bored after doing just one and decided it would be much more fun to be disruptive by throwing the glitter around.  The elder one then decided to try and make glitter glue by pouring the glitter into the glue (I can see his logic, but it was a criminal waste of both, creating just a lumpy useless mess).  Nevertheless, I'm quite pleased with our creations - that is I'm pleased with the glittery pinecones, which are quite effective, but not so pleased with the mess we made.  We used an awful lot of glitter, and it is now EVERYWHERE and probably will be for a long time, in spite of my best efforts to clear up.  I suspected that this is what would happen, but somehow the reality always seems to be worse than my expectations!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Child Art Prodigies

Everyone loves the naivety and immediacy of children’s art, and will often joke that it is indistinguishable from the work of some well-known artists.  But what if your child seems to have a genuine talent, what if in fact they appear to be a child prodigy?

The term 'child prodigy' is given to a child who is capable of excelling in at least one area of skill, at a level that is considered to be that of a highly trained adult in that field.  Child art prodigies are relatively rare.  There have been some well-documented cases throughout the history of art, including Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso (who painted ‘The Picador’ at the age of just 8), but many of these did not display ‘adult’ levels of skill until they were a little older, for example John Everett Millais, who entered the Royal Academy Schools at the age of 11, and JMW Turner who was elected as a member of the Royal Academy itself at the age of just 15. (John Constable didn't achieve this until he was 52). This was perhaps inevitable at a time when representational art, in the western world at least, was pretty much universal.  However with the advent of abstract art, and expressionist art in particular, child prodigies have got ever younger, and 2 - 4 years old appears to be the age at which any self-respecting child art prodigy has their first exhibition these days.

One of the most well-known examples is that of Marla Olmstead, who sold her first painting for $253 at the age of 2.  Since then, some of her paintings have been sold for many thousands of dollars.  Some art critics think that she has an impressive ability to paint in layers, and fill the canvas instead of painting in one layer and leaving most of the canvas blank (I’m not too sure that this is especially rare - certainly my 3 year old does this, but then maybe it’s because I give him small pieces of paper instead of large canvases!)  Marla is from an artistic family, but there is a certain amount of controversy about her work, with some critics suggesting that what she does is no more than most children of her age would achieve if they had some additional coaching.

A more recent case which sprang up in Australia earlier this year, is that of Aelita Andre - another 2 year old toddler whose abstract artwork has been selling for between $240-$1400.  Again, there is some debate as to whether it is all her own work (her parents are both artists) though her parents insist that it is.  When her work was first selected for exhibition, her parents apparently neglected to tell the gallery owner that the work was by their 2 year old daughter.  Perhaps that wasn’t important, after all the work did sell. You can see more of Aelita's work at her website.

Along with all the hype, there have been accusations of child exploitation.  I must admit I was tempted to try this the other day when my 3 year old produced a beautiful abstract painting, all swirls of gorgeous colour which any professional artist would have been proud of.   For a brief moment I toyed with the idea of passing it off as my own, and selling it for vast sums of money, but for him it was a work in progress, and although I tried to persuade him to stop there and then, the ‘less is more’ argument cut no ice, and I had to watch in distress as he turned it to mud - it was after all his painting.  However it hasn’t stopped me using some of my elder son’s drawings on some of the nursery artwork I sell (he takes a fee for this!)  They lend a wonderful na├»ve charm, and he’s happy enough to produce them.  I fear neither of us are going to get rich though.  These were however one of the catalysts behind the development of Artful Kids.  After all, any child’s drawing can be used, and I figured it would be a lovely way for an older sibling to get involved with helping to decorate a younger child’s bedroom.

My own feeling is that the significant thing with these very early ‘prodigies’ is that these are children who are given acrylic paints, large canvases, and the support and encouragement of their artistically trained or educated parents.  This by itself would make such children unusual, add this to a little natural talent, some marketing and PR, and hey presto, you have a ‘prodigy’.  This is not to belittle any skill that they do have, but child prodigies rarely become adult geniuses - what gets the attention of the media, is  the young age of the child more than the quality of the artwork itself, and as with most aspects of normal child development, eventually many of their peers will catch up, or even overtake.

There is a danger that the parents of such children put their own needs first, massaging their egos through reflected glory, rather than considering the effect that all the attention may have on the young child, and what might happen when that attention goes away, as it inevitably will.  Having said all that, Marla Olmstead is still painting and selling her work at the age of 9 - but only time will tell if she will be as famous as an adult artist, as she has been as a child.  You can judge her work for yourself on her website 

You can read  another of my posts about Child Art Prodigies here.

Flickr Photo Credits:

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Featured Artist with a Seasonal Theme

My 5yr olds Christmas Picture by HotdogandMe.

My second Featured Artist has been chosen with a seasonal theme.  This contribution was made by HotdogandMe, and is the work of her 5 year old daughter.  It shows Santa in his sleigh in a starry sky, a Christmas tree, snowman, and house with people.  I love this picture, and it reminds me of the work of my own 5 year old.
Thank you to everyone who has uploaded images so far to the Artful Kids Flickr Group - keep them coming!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Picture Perfect Meme

I have only just discovered what a Meme is - and have certainly never taken part before, but I came upon this one on SnafflesMummy, and as well as appealing to me, I thought it was appropriate for here, so decided to join in. The Meme was started by Tara at Stickyfingers. I picked up on this a little late, but better late than never. The idea was to ask your child to draw or paint a picture of you, and display the results, so here are the portraits of Mummy that my 2 boys produced (the eldest is 5 the younger just turned 3)  I think (hope) you'd struggle to recognise me, but at least they've shown me smiling, and I like to think that's significant!


Tara has done a wonderful video of some of the earlier contributions, but if anyone else has any portraits they'd like to show off by a child under 12, please feel free to add it to the Artful Kids Flickr Group, and I'll feature it here at a future date.  In fact my next post will be devoted to a Featured Artist with a Christmas theme, so if your child has produced a special Christmas picture and you want it to be considered, you'll need to add it soon!