Here's my tips for a fun and stress free painting experience!
1. Prepare your area. It's not going to be a fun experience for you or your child if you can't relax because you're too worried about the mess! Cover the painting surface with newspaper or a large sheet or cloth. I do a lot of activities at my toddler classes on the floor - it allows the children to move around and explore without the restriction of a table and chair - and have huge pieces of plastic sheeting I use to cover the floor. Fill a bowl with some warm soapy water ready for washing and either get your child (and you) into some clothes you don't mind getting a bit painty. Or even strip your little one down to nappy or pants if it's warm enough! Have some towels and wipes/kitchen towel handy. Also have an area ready to put down the finished artwork - if you're doing this outside you can peg the finished paintings on the washing line to dry!
2. Get some large pieces of thick paper. Thin copier paper won't withstand an enthusiastic painter! I love lining paper - cheap to buy in bulk and you can cut off as much as you want. Thick sugar paper is also good. The bigger the better as it allows your little one the freedom to get creative over a much bigger space.
3. Use thick paint. It reduces splashing from enthusiastic little hands. The texture of the paint is also important for little ones to allow them to explore the sensation of the paint on their hands and fingers. You can buy paint especially made thicker for finger painting (ELC sell pots of it) or you can make your own using cornflour, water and food colouring! You can also add texture to the finger painting experience by adding a little play sand to paint for extra sensory stimulation.
4. If you're trying finger painting with a very young child who is still exploring everything with their mouth try making "edible paint" - finger painting with vegetable purees (carrot, pea), drinking chocolate, yoghurt, even jelly is lots of fun!
One of my own little ARTventurers after a fingerpainting session at home - Isaac age 13mths.
4. Use plates to put the paint onto so it's accessible for little fingers and hands. I have a load of plastic dinner plates that are fab for toddler painting.
5. Choose bright vibrant colours and put out one colour on each plate. Otherwise it will quickly become a large brown sludgy mess! But encourage colour mixing on the paper - what happens if you put red over the yellow or blue and red?
6. Some children will dive straight into the paint and get started straight away! Some will be wary of the sensation of the paint on their hands and be unsure what to do. Show them by getting stuck in yourself - show them how to make fingerprints and handprints on the paper and they'll soon get the hang of it! Some children may be happier to have their fingers or hand painted with a paint brush first rather than dip it into the paint.
7. Talk to your child while they are painting - how does it feel on their hands, which colour are they using....Try painting with fingers, toes, hands, feet......
8. Have fun - it's all about the creative process, just relax and let your child explore and experiment!