Saturday 10 January 2015

Cut it up, stand it up, hang it up: 3 quirky ways to showcase your children's art

1. Cut it up! (or Art Squared)
I stumbled across this idea on Christmas Day whilst looking for a neighbour with a microwave to zap our Christmas pudding (yep, we’d forgotten to put it on to steam). The lovely Sally, No.5, was more than happy to help, and also, I noticed, had this striking and unusual piece of art on her living room wall.
It’s made entirely out of the 'art' her children Charlie and Rosie did at nursery school when they were nippers. You know, those pieces of paper with random brush strokes that they bring home thick and fast. The ones you stick on your fridge with pride at first but then start to form a crinkly pile in a corner of the house.
This is a wonderful solution to the they're-really-cluttering-up-the-place-but-I-haven't-got-the-heart-to-throw-them-away dilemma. Sally cut them up into squares and arranged them artistically to make this sophisticated – and precious – piece of art.
And I love the title she gave it: A three-year-old could have done that!

2. Stand it up! (or Cardboard Friends)
Then your children get a bit older and start to draw people. Just primitive beings at first, with arms coming straight out of blobby heads. But gradually they fine-tune their skills and before you know it, their people have ears, eyelashes, hairstyles, outfits, and quite possibly names, jobs, hobbies, pets and bank accounts. Here’s a gem of an idea of what to do with those adorable little paper humans.
I stole the idea from Abi Simmons, a friend and artist with her own handmade gifts company. She takes the ones she likes the most, sticks them individually onto cardboard and folds it so that they can stand up independently.
It really brings them alive (and they take up a lot less space than whole pieces of paper). You can dot them around the house to add character to a book shelf, mantelpiece or windowsill, or display them all together. Here's one of Abi's children's gangs!

3. Hang it up, up, up! (or The Up-the-Stairs Art Gallery)
The development of their artistic skills is pretty fascinating. The way they suddenly jump from one stage to another while you're busy picking up peas off the kitchen floor. As my son grew up, I selected pictures he'd done that I really liked and that clearly showed a leap to a new level, and hung them chronologically on the wall along the stairs. So toddler stuff at the bottom, teenage stuff at the top. Each one is labelled with the age he did it and a title (decided by him). 
The gallery begins with the very first time he drew something that actually looked like what it was meant to be ...
... and moves on to the first time he drew something that had a special charm all of its own ("Grumpy mummy, and daddy" indeed!) ...
... and continues through to pictures he's done since he's been at Big School ...
Pictures by my daughter, who we adopted when my son was seven, start to make an appearance about halfway up the stairs ...
and are still being added to ...
I sometimes imagine myself as a little old lady, still passing by and cherishing these pictures as I go up and down on my stairlift!

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  1. Yep, I'm keeping my eye out for more!

  2. We have an up-the-stairs gallery :) I love the idea of cutting out the figures and making them into standing pieces.

  3. Oh, I would love to see your gallery, Zoe! Yes, I think the standy-up people are adorable.

  4. I love these projects! The stair gallery is just genius, you know. I'm going to have to try that painted squares project with my Art Club kids soon :)

  5. Yes, my fingers are twitching to do that painted squares project, but I don't have toddlers any more! Though I did do a colurful, fill-the-whole-paper, communal doodle with family members recently and then we cut that up into squares and make a 'new' picture out of it. That was fun.

  6. Cutting it up - very clever. I still have my workbook from pre-school - many decades ago. If the girls scribbled on paper to see if a pen worked when they were 14, I probably kept it. We don't let go of childhood stuff easily around here. I might do this!

  7. These are all wonderful ideas and such a great way to use children's art. I'll be sharing this on The Crafty Crow soon :)

  8. Robin, that's funny! Sounds like you could have a field day cutting up stuff! Cassi, that's great news...thank you!

  9. Your neighbour seems to have some sort of Colour coordination going on any tips please??

  10. Hi Amz - yes, my neighbour explained how she did it as follows:

    "I sorted all the pieces by predominant colour or combo of colours and then sorted each group into different grades of amount of colour /white background. Started at the centre and worked out, planning each row as I went. So yes, was quite systematic."

    Hope this helps!