December 1, 2016


Have any of you taken the leap and started an art space for your child? I was so happy to hear that my brother and sister in law went out and stocked up on art supplies after seeing my post! I’d love to see pictures of your child’s work or photos of your space if you’ve done it, too! Now, if you’ve actually gone and started the whole art thing, you’re probably running into a common problem/fear of parents of kids with paint: MESS.

One of my concerns in creating a dedicated art space was that it was going to get messy. And it does. But I have a few solutions for keeping this all manageable and generally clean.

  1. A canvas drop cloth.
    I just discovered these things and they are great! I first bought one to make a teepee tent for the kids. Then I bought another one and folded it in half to make a makeshift rug under the “messy” art table area. I lined it with rug liner so it wouldn’t slip, and it has worked well for us so far!
  2. IKEA trays. These $1.99 trays, to be exact. They catch the dribbly glue, paint, sand, beads, and little knick knacks that would normally find their way into your wood grain or floor. These are easy to rinse off and a great way to move an unfinished project to the shelf to dry between projects.
  3. Cardboard pieces. These are simply pieces of cardboard roughly cut to 12″ by 18″ rectangles.
    They are perfect to lay under a piece of paper before beginning to paint or glue. Since they’re just recycled pieces of cardboard, you don’t feel too bad if they get all icky or splattered with paint, and you also don’t feel like you have to clean it afterward! My daughter loves to place completed masterpieces on the cardboard and carefully walk it over to the sliding door and place it in the sunlight. “So Mr. Sun can dry it!” she says.
  4. A roll of paper towels handy. Yep.
  5. A spray bottle. Originally I gave her this $1.09 Target spray bottle so we could make cool art with tissue paper squares. Which we did:
    tissue-paper-artBut now she uses it to spray and wipe down the tables all the time. COOL. I guess she’s seen us wipe down tables enough at home that she knows it’s a thing :). It’s also handy when I find little blobs of paint on the floor or shelf- spray, spray, wipe. Gone.
  6. A place for everything. Okay I’m cheating a little, because this isn’t an item, but this one is SO TRUE. As I’m writing this post, I’m thinking back on the magical moment that took place earlier today: I told my two year old that before we started on our new art project, she’d have to clean up the ENTIRE ART SPACE. She proceeded to put the pipettes away, move her completed art to the “completed art tray,” stuff the play dough back into the play dough cup, snap on the lid, and store it in the play dough box. She put all her markers back in the silver container and placed it back on the art cart. Then she returned two pairs of scissors to their place and picked up a box from the floor and set it on the shelf. I sat there and showered her with praise. But that’s all I did. I did not lift a finger to help her. She put some construction paper back in its place, threw away a few scraps of paper that were on the floor, and straightened out the chairs and trash can. And in about eight minutes time, THE ENTIRE ROOM WAS CLEAN. I am telling the truth. And this happened not because of drop cloth or trays or paper towels, but because there is a PLACE FOR EVERYTHING in this space. That, and she’s a pretty amazing little girl. <3 <3 <3 <3. #proud #grateful #lucky #caughtheronagoodday

So those are my tips for keeping your art space manageably clean. There are certainly days that are definitely just crayon and paper days, or cutting with scissors only days… but having these supplies around to keep our space clean makes me willing to attempt paint days and glue days sometimes, too.

I think a major barrier to doing art is the mess we expect, and that’s totally valid. But a few simple tools like trays and paper towels can go a long way in setting everyone up for a more relaxing, calm, and clean time of messy art fun :).

2 responses to “Five Essential Items to Contain the Mess in an Art Studio”

  1. Angela says:

    Super helpful! We will try some of these as well 😉 I also noticed you had a big trash bin ready for all the bits of paper which we think we will adopt too!