Tag Archives: artwork

Things to do with Your Kid’s Artwork!

2 Mar

How many layers of artwork do you have clipped or under a magnet on your refrigerator?  Most parents feel each “original piece” of artwork is invaluable, but if you have new works of art coming home from school each week and more pieces being produced at home before dinner is served…what’s a parent to do?

I personally have taken digital photos of our favorites and then ordered them as magnets, placemats or framed a large size print of my daughter’s artwork.  We have a rope that is clipped across a set of windows in the nook off the kitchen where her art table is, and we display (and rotate) her original pieces with simple clothes pins.  When its time to change the display, some honestly get recycled and some get placed into a box marked “Julia’s Art x/x/xx to x/x/xx”.

I found the following article from Parents.Com to provide some additional good ideas on what to do with the abundance of art work.  Check it out!

What to Do with Kid Art


kids art haning on wall by

Regardless of your kid’s natural artistic talent, it’s likely you’ll feel that every finger painting, stick-figure drawing, and macaroni collage he produces is a masterpiece.

But alas, only so many works of art will fit on the front of your fridge. And at this point, there’s a mini avalanche every time you reach for the milk. Here, 14 unique alternatives to the cluttered fridge door.

Create an Art Wall
Take a cue from the art classrooms of your elementary school days and hang up a clothesline in a designated “art space” — fasten it to a wall in the kitchen, her bedroom, or the playroom. Then just attach pieces with a clothespin. Swap in new pictures as quickly as she’s able to produce them. (We like this display method because it’s budget-friendly and it’s aesthetically neutral and will likely fit in with any decor.) For a punch of color, use a colored string of beads or ribbon instead of basic clothesline or twine, and attach drawings with painted clothespins, colored paper clips, or even cute, multicolored kids’ barrettes or hair clips.

Turn It into a Postage Stamp

Upload an image and turn it into a totally legit, U.S. Postal Service-approved stamp (scan in the piece of artwork, or take a digital pic of it and upload it from your computer). This is a great way to add a personal touch to any letter or holiday card you send — and seeing your kid’s creation on that stamp will be way more fun than the latest official post office stamp or that boring red flag. We like pictureitpostage.com because you can create oversize stamps (all the better to see the artwork), with lots of options for customizing type color and background. Two printed sheets of 20 stamps are $17.95.

girl drawing picture
Send It Off to Interested Parties (i.e., the Grandparents)

Grandma complains she doesn’t hear from you enough? Let your kid send a missive (kids love to send and receive mail, and Grandma will love getting something so personal). Take your kid’s art and glue it to brightly colored construction paper or card stock — then have him write a personal note to Grandma (or a favorite aunt or uncle) on the back. Now Grandma’s got something for her fridge.

girl cutting construction paper
Turn It into Holiday Gift Tags

Child labor? In this case, we’re all for it. Instead of buying premade packs of gift tags at Target or your local drugstore this year, cut out a bunch yourself in cute shapes at home and then let your kid go to town drawing whatever feels holiday-like to him — stars, Santa, Rudolph — on one side. When he’s done, he can help you punch holes in one end of the card and slip ribbons through for tying them to the presents.

Or take pieces he’s already created and repurpose them into gift tags or homemade birthday cards for relatives.

red professional fram for kids artwork
Treat It Like the Real Thing

Every so often — maybe once a school year — when your kid brings home a piece that you feel is really special, spring for professional framing, as you would for “real” artwork or an exceptional vacation photo you love. If your kid’s old enough to enjoy the outing, let him come with you to look at frame styles and the various colored matting options so he’ll appreciate the process and really “get” what a special occasion it is.

Turn It into a Cool Bag You (or Your Kid) Can Carry

Snaptotes.com lets you create completely original, totally cute bags with photos or art. Choose from totes, handbags, beach bags, and messenger bags — designs are un-fussy and bags are black so your kid’s art will really pop. Consider using your child’s piece to create a totally original (and great-looking) alternative to the Dora the Explorer bags tons of kids tote to school.

Prices vary depending on bag style and size, but range from about $60 to $120.

Turn It into Pop Art

Transform your kid’s work of art into a real, Warhol-esque stunner at photowow.com. This works best with a clear, easily recognizable object — a face, an apple, or a star for example. This site will add bold color and turn it into a multipanel pop-art canvas (a la Warhol’s famous images of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor). A four-panel canvas, on which the same image is repeated four times, starts at $90. Each additional image, if you want to mix them, is an extra 30 bucks.

Moo MiniCards
Turn It into Your Kid’s Calling Card

Didn’t know he needed one? Next time you meet a new kid at school or the playground and you’d like to exchange numbers with the other parent for a playdate, you’ll have something preprinted to give out. Put your kid’s art on one side and his (and your) contact info on the other — voila! A cool site, moo.com, lets you create all kinds of fun things — postcards, sticker books, note cards, and custom “MiniCards” that would make perfect calling cards. They come in a matte laminate finish and are $19.99 for a box of 100.

Snapfish Placemat
Turn It into Place Mats

Your fancy tablecloth makes holiday appearances — but the place mats? Always on the table. Add new ones to the rotation by using your kid’s art to create them at snapfish.com. One place mat for $9.99.

Snapfish Playing Cards
Turn It into Playing Cards

Another fun option at snapfish.com? Playing cards — your kid’s artwork gets showcased on one side, and it’s a regular deck of cards on the other. The whole family will get a kick out of seeing a cute, original drawing being dealt around the table during the next Go Fish or Crazy Eights marathon. $19.99.

Shutterfly Canvas Prints
Turn It into a Large Canvas Print

Supersize your kid’s art at shutterfly.com. Scan the image, then upload it, and let the print adorn his room in grand fashion. Prints come with gallery-wrapped edges (which look nice and finished), so you can hang the artwork as is, with no frame necessary. The largest size, 24 by 36 inches, is $149.99.

Totally Custom Wallpaper Mural
Turn It into Custom Wallpaper

Size is no object at totallycustomwallpaper.com, a site that will take your cool piece of original artwork and turn it into a custom mural or wallpaper in any size you like — just send them the wall dimensions (and remember that they need a high-resolution digital image for the best results). Got an impressive abstract? This might be a way to display it in a really grand way. Wallpaper is made of a latex-saturated paper stock, with a finish somewhere between matte and gloss. But be forewarned: Because the wall coverings are so oversized, the company recommends that you hire a professional to hang them. Not sure how to do it or what it would look like? Call them up and chat them through what you have in mind — they’ve created wallpaper out of original artwork (and drawings and photos and landscapes) before, so chances are good they’ll be able to turn your vision into a cool, viable wall hanging. (You can request a custom quote for your project online or by phone.)

Totally Out Of Hand
Turn It into Jewelry

Transform your kid’s doodles into wearable sterling silver or 14K gold jewelry at totallyoutofhand.com, a site run by Lee Skalkos, an artist and self-taught silversmith. She makes custom pins, necklaces, earrings and more — tell her what you have in mind and she’ll work with you. A small silver pendant starts at $95; a small pin starts at $125 (prices for pieces in gold are quoted individually).

Sixfoot Cyclops
Turn It into a Toy

An artist named Lizette Greco takes her own kids’ original drawings of animals, houses and, well, pretty much anything else, and turns them into plush, three-dimensional toys crafted from colorful recycled materials. She’ll do it with your kid’s art, too — she takes commissions. Prices vary based on size and design, but generally start at $400.

Copyright © 2007 Parents.com.



http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

Parents, are you your child’s toughest art critic?

1 Mar

What do you do OR have you done with your child’s art work?  Are you hoarding it in boxes and plastic totes, thinking your child will want to see every single piece of paper they marked with a crayon/colored pencil/marker or paint brush? 

Our older daughter, Julia, is now 4 1/2 years old and we have repurposed the “free” rectangular priority shipping USPS boxes to store her art work over the past couple years since she started preschool – but not every single piece of art work.  So yes, we as her parents have made a judgement call on what’s worthy to keep, write her name and date on the back of the art and label the box with the time frame of creations it contains (ie. 1/1/2009-5/31/2009).

But, realistically, with most of the works of art being generated on regular paper, art paper or construction paper, how well will they all hold up over the years/decades?  Well, one way we have memorialized real special pieces (like the first people drawing she made of our family of 4) is by simply taking a photograph of it and printing a photo, keeping the jpeg file, ordering it on a mug, magnet or as a place mat for the dining table!  For current favorite pieces, we hang and loop a rope around a window using clothespins to clip the rope to the blinds and to clip the art to the rope to proudly display Julia’s work.  It’s also nice to see them with the sun beaming in from behind each piece!

Whether you toss (hopefully recycle) every piece of art brought home from school or keep every piece or are somewhere in between (like us), the article “Mom, You’re One Tough Art Critic” by Michael Tortello of The New York Times is one I wanted to share.

Mom, You’re One Tough Art Critic

Darren Higgins for The New York Times

Elisabeth Hanff, 4, with a portrait from her blue period. More Photos »

Published: January 26, 2011


After careful consideration, Jessica Hanff has found the ideal spot for the art that her 4-year-old daughter, Elisabeth, brings home from preschool: the trash can.



Robert Wright for The New York Times

Tracy Miller, holding her daughter Alice Shehadi, displays some of her older daughter Josie Shehadi’s portraits of stuffed animals in the kitchen. More Photos »

Stuart Isett for The New York Times

Anne Phyfe Palmer and her daughter Coco, 4, with artwork done by Coco and her older sister, Lily. More Photos »

Readers’ Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

“We’re getting two to four pieces of crayon drawing a day,” said Ms. Hanff, a 36-year-old operations manager for an academic research institute. On a recent Tuesday, Ms. Hanff began sorting through a few dozen of Elisabeth’s drawings, stacked in the mudroom of the family’s Washington home.

“These are printouts off the computer, colored in,” she said. “C is for Cat! And she’s scribbled some things on it. This is Dora the Explorer.” Ms. Hanff stopped to observe the purplish rings that Elisabeth had marked around Dora’s eyes. “It looks like someone slapped her in the face. She’s got these big shiners.”

Ms. Hanff is always on the lookout for “exceptional” drawings. But this entire batch would soon be archived in the rubbish bin. “I’m not sentimental about those at all,” she said. “It’s my job to avoid raising a hoarder, and I’m leading by example.”

But Elisabeth has been known to fish her drawings out of the trash and present them to her mother. “I’ll say, ‘Oh, thank you,’ ” Ms. Hanff said. “We’ll have a discussion. I’m not callous. But once she turns away, often I’ll toss it out again.”

Elisabeth’s creative work, it should be noted, can be found all over the house. (At this point, her 2-year-old sister, Charlotte, doesn’t claim as much wall space.) Elisabeth started embroidering last year. And her grandmother gave her a grown-up watercolor set. In a vaguely Dadaist spirit, Elisabeth used a floret of broccoli to paint the pointillist color study that hangs in her bedroom.

“I do think my kids are awesome,” Ms. Hanff said. “I tell them how great they are. But we’re not going to build an addition on the back for every piece of crayon art they’ve ever done.”

We all want our children to be creative. But do they have to be so prolific? Once children enter nursery school, every day produces another masterpiece. Presidents’ Day brings a cotton ball wig; Purim means a bean-box rattle.

Forget about organizing the pieces in a storage bin. This is a job for a shipping container.

All this art may or may not tell us something about the nature of the child. But it reveals plenty about the parents. Do they lavish praise on every piece or barely glance up from the iPhone? Do they frame art for the grandparents or turn it into wrapping paper? In the plainest sense, is the parent a keeper or a chucker?

No one has quantified just how much art children create at school, said David Burton, a professor of art education at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. But having worked in the field for more than 40 years, Dr. Burton refutes the notion that present-day parents have coddled and attaboy-ed their children into overproducing.

Art classrooms of the 1960s and ’70s followed “a philosophy of make and take,” Dr. Burton said. That is, at the end of every 40-minute class, an art project would be ready for Mom and Dad. Art educators today have been trained to encourage a deeper exploration of material, process and theory.

At the same time, Dr. Burton said, tots now start scribbling with ergonomic crayons by the age of 18 months: “Years and years ago, people — even art educators — believed that children would just waste materials when they were really toddlers.”

Art can be valuable to the development of even the youngest children, Dr. Burton said. Drawing, for instance, helps build cognitive and fine motor skills. And it teaches children to observe and discriminate when it comes to color, shape and form. Young children can sometimes draw emotions that go beyond their words, he added.

But how much does a 4-year-old boy really care about his 50th portrait of Thomas the Tank Engine? “Once they’re through with it, they may lose interest in it very quickly,” Dr. Burton said. “The process is more important than the product for the child.”

Still, the curator of the refrigerator door can’t be too ruthless. When Dad de-accessions a new finger painting overnight, Dr. Burton said, “the child quickly learns that this art that they’re making is very ephemeral.” In other words, worthless.

TRACY MILLER, a 44-year-old mother of two, hardly needs to be sold on the value of art. She is a painter herself, with a solo show this month at the Feature Inc gallery on the Lower East Side. The basement studio of her family’s 1,400-square-foot row house in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood of Brooklyn is stuffed with 6-by-6-foot canvases.

Yet however challenging it can be to edit her own work, Ms. Miller finds it even harder to pare down the yield of her kindergartner, Josie. The 5-year-old seldom leaves home without a sketchbook. She can easily create a dozen pictures a day. While Ms. Miller took measure of her daughter’s art, in fact, Josie was finishing up a life drawing of the school rabbit, her houseguest for the weekend.

Ms. Miller has framed the watercolors Josie made of her dearest stuffed animals. And she stores the pieces that Josie has crafted on buck-a-page art paper. But the collection is reaching unmanageable levels.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do with it,” Ms. Miller said. Some 20 paper grocery bags full of Josie’s art already occupy the storage room, the basement and the closet. “Logically, if we kept everything, there just wouldn’t be room in the house.”

Meanwhile, Josie has made it clear that she does not care to part with her pictures. “Throwing things away has to be done without her knowing about it,” Ms. Miller said, her voice dropping to a conspiratorial register.

“I’m getting better about not recycling” the paper, which leaves Josie’s art sitting out where it can be discovered and retrieved, she said. These days, “it goes into the garbage.”

Ms. Miller has heard of mothers who document their children’s art with a digital camera or a scanner, then shed the bulky originals. She can almost imagine doing that herself when she has a spare moment — five years from now, maybe, when the family moves.

In this fashion, Dr. Burton conceded, “You could save every scrap of paper that the child ever made.” But don’t. A better plan, he said, is to store a child’s art in two boxes.

The first one is a temporary file for recent creations. The second is a kind of permanent vault, which holds a few selected works, spanning the course of 5 to 10 years. Each piece can include a makeshift museum card. Write the title of the piece, the age of the artist and the date. While parents are at it, they may want to add the story behind the picture in a sentence or two.

In his 2006 book “Exhibiting Student Art,” Dr. Burton discusses an annual fifth-grade art show in Concord, Mass., that features a chronological sampling from each young artist. At the exhibition, he said, a child can look and say, “This horse is much better than my horse from three years ago.”

To create such an anthology at home, Dr. Burton suggests sifting through the boxes with a child, maybe twice a year. Try talking about each piece. Then, together, pick some favorites.

The discarding “has to be done respectfully,” he said with a laugh. “There’s a ritual to disposing of a flag — a formal way to burn it.”

When Julie Wolfson’s two daughters, Vivian, 7, and Sofia, 11, were at their most artistically fruitful, Ms. Wolfson arrived at an even tidier storage solution: skip the in-box. Ms. Wolfson, a 42-year-old freelance journalist and arts educator in Los Angeles, wouldn’t even let her children’s coloring reach the car.

“I was the mom who opened her child’s school folder at school, walked to the office and recycled 9 out of every 10 pieces,” Ms. Wolfson said.

Vivian and Sofia’s samizdat would sometimes manage to reach their father’s “art gallery.” That would be the corkboard that Steven Wolfson, a 44-year-old teacher and writer, uses to map out screenplays.

Mr. Wolfson appreciates his wife’s will to cast off worksheets of long division, he said. But artifacts like the girls’ self-portraits somehow “become sacred” to him.

“I can’t bear to throw that into the garbage,” he said. “From when Sofia was very young, it’s been easier for Julie to let go of stuff.”

Haley Gibson, 26, tries to send home artwork just twice a year from the pre-K classroom she leads at the Barrow Street Nursery School at Greenwich House, in the West Village. As art critics, she observed, New York parents seem to share one criterion: the less glitter the better.

Ms. Gibson’s experience in the classroom has given her the rare ability to answer a question every parent has: Is my child a budding artistic genius or what?

The answer is typically the latter, with a few qualifications. “At this age” — around 4 years old, Ms. Gibson said — “it really depends on the development of their fine motor skills and their ability to draw representationally.”

Still, each class of a dozen students seems to have one standout. This young artist’s work may be elaborately detailed or emotionally complex.

“The parents of these children are definitely very supportive of their children’s artwork,” Ms. Gibson said. Yet she sees “lots of parents who do the same thing, and their children don’t seem to show that gift.”

ULTIMATELY, when parents save the treasures of their little artists, they are stocking a hope chest of the imagination. In less poetic terms, someday Mom and Dad will try to give the junk back.

Anne Phyfe Palmer’s mother stored sheaves of her juvenilia for decades. It wasn’t easy. Ms. Palmer’s mother owned a small house in New Orleans without a basement or an attic. Five years ago, she packed the entire contents of her home into a truck and moved to Seattle. That’s where Ms. Palmer, 40, owns a small chain of yoga studios and lives with her husband and two daughters.

Ms. Palmer knew what was coming. Her mother was a committed “memorabilia collector,” she said. And yet somehow Ms. Palmer still didn’t know what to do with the four giant portfolios she found one afternoon, deposited outside the house.

“They were literally on the porch for a week, leaning over there sadly,” she said.

Eventually, Ms. Palmer sorted through the folders. The drawings were legion, she said: some meaningful, some forgettable and forgotten. But the more intensive projects in the time capsule — like the fishbowl made of plastic wrap — sent her mind gamboling back to elementary school.

Eventually, Ms. Palmer winnowed down her collection to “one plump portfolio, which still needs to be edited,” she said. At this point, she realized, no one else is going to do it.

“There was this thought, ‘Oh, my mom’s not the keeper of my art anymore,’ ” she said.

Apparently, if you want to own your childhood, you have to throw it away.

 A version of this article appeared in print on January 27, 2011, on page D1 of the New York edition.