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I am an art teacher, artist and parent. I am using this blog to share inspiring methods, images or questions all around art and creativity - inside and outside school. Click around, be inspired and have an artful day!

Convert your Kid's Mess into Art!

Convert your Kid's Mess into Art!

T. Grahlmann: "American Beauty" (2015) bowl, petals, toy

T. Grahlmann: "American Beauty" (2015) bowl, petals, toy

Turn your kid's mess into a piece of art: Take a picture and add a title.

I hugely enjoy watching my children when they are immersed in role plays. Sometimes, their play is such a funny mirror of our family life or society, revealing how they experience certain places or encounters. Most of the times, they integrate household items, natural products or toys in their play and pretend the small objects are in fact big and alive. A blue carpet turns into a sea, stones become talking fish. When my son was between 3 to 5 years old, he was always busy animating simple objects, carefully moving them around the house, fully immersed in a parallel reality. When he was done playing, he often just left the objects where he had stopped playing.

T. Grahlmann: "Hase im Sommerloch" (2015) toy animal in plug hole

T. Grahlmann: "Hase im Sommerloch" (2015) toy animal in plug hole

Does this sound familiar now? Toys and things lie around and we parents are just annoyed by the mess that is left behind.

Yet, sometimes, the left-behind objects are really worth a second look. I have found so many hilarious, symbolic or simply adorable setups around our house, thanks to my son's vivid imagination, like a little toy rabbit sitting in the bathroom sink or another toy bathing in a bowl full of petals. So, before you ask your kids to tidy up, use the traces of their brilliant imagination for your own benefit and turn it into art!

 

How to convert your kid's mess into art

1.     How you start: You see objects lying around that kids have played with.

2.     A remarkable construction, a funny combination of things or a surprising detail catches your attention? Brainstorm associations.

3.     Take a picture. By taking a picture of a child’s “installation” or "sculpture", you can literally let the object appear in a specific light. Play around with light, perspective and frame.

4.     Add a title. Try out titles to add associations. Does the title refer to certain cultural values? Worldviews? What does your title reveal about your everyday life? Do you want your titles to push in a funny or in an intellectual direction?

5.     Share your work via social networks! I have had so many friends replying with similar photos or coming up with alternative titles to my own photos. Try it out. This is so much fun, it goes viral!

After sending photos with titles to friends, I received pictures like this in return:

S. Ehrich: "Nothing is as it seems" (2015)

S. Ehrich: "Nothing is as it seems" (2015)

I love it! My friend took the idea a bit further, adding titles to a series of pictures. Also, you don't necessarily have to take pictures of "sculptures" or "installations". In this case, writing works as well.

Share your photos on twitter with the hash tag #myartsparks. The best ideas will be featured on this website!

The positive side effect

Of course, I am not fond of cleaning up my son's mess and of course it annoys me that I have to keep reminding him to tidy his room up himself, but this activity really helped me appreciate my kid's sensitive play with objects. His little "installations" are proof of how immersed he is in his play and how he explores the quality of objects: their texture, their smell and the general aura of these objects. His observations of the material's quality inspire him. Here, I see a lot of parallels to how artist's work with material. All in all, a mess-to-art-conversion (as I like to call this activity) simply makes me happy since it allows me to see meaning or add humour in the chaos of everyday life.

It will be interesting to see if this idea inspires anyone else to take pictures of their children’s mess. Use the opportunity to share your thoughts, ideas and experiences below. How do your children respond when you pay so much attention to their mess? Please leave a comment below!

Let's be Inventors!

Let's be Inventors!

Collage Fun: This will get you hooked!!

Collage Fun: This will get you hooked!!