Art in Action: How to rock it out with the wee ones!



“Aunt Stephie, um, can we paint?” This said in the softest, sweet voice that belongs to my 5-year-old niece.

This request is almost certain to pop up after family dinner at my house. My well-mannered sister-in-law has no doubt instructed her that the polite thing is to wait until we are all fed. Claire is asking on behalf of herself and her older brother, Colton, and it’s a request that is met with a resounding YES!

I save old cardboard and T-shirts just for this occasion. I roll out a sheet of plastic and set out water buckets and bring out the tub of paint and we play right on the floor. It’s the greatest thing ever I don’t have to offer suggestions; they are kids, not yet old enough to have lost their imagination. They always attack their pieces of cardboard with the authority of one who knows what they are doing. I love this bit. It reminds me we are all born artists. To paraphrase Picasso, the key is to remember how to stay one as we grow older.

Looking at their masterpieces — both bought from the artists for $5 each (I can’t bear to see them go, and Colton and Claire like the cash) — I said to my husband, “I love the abandon in their work. I wish I could paint like that, totally free and without regard for outcome.” He smiled, admiring their work. Kids have long inspired me in this way.

I’ll leave you with this thought: Paint with your children — or other kids you love — often. It takes nothing more than the basics: a surface to paint on, paint, a plastic throw and brushes. And join in the fun! Don’t have them paint alone — fun is not reserved for the wee ones. An imagination is indeed a terrible thing to waste!

A welcome interruption: Claire and Colton take a break from painting to watch the wildlife outside the studio!


Claire’s finished rendition of Muchacho Libre. I see the resemblance, don’t you?

About Stephanie Schlatter Art

Stephanie Schlatter is an Artist who draws from the world for inspiration. While she calls Grand Rapids, Michigan, home she’s often off on new adventures. For more than a decade, her journeys have taken her across the globe. She has studied art both locally and abroad, including time in Mexico, where she decided to shift her focus from photography to painting. Stephanie's travels led her to found Absolutely Art: A Project for Change in 2006. Through this non-profit organization, she brings art instruction to the children of Ethiopia while supporting their education. Stephanie's work reflects an expression influenced by other cultures which resonates a variety of influences that have given her work direction.

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