If you love to paint, then learn to love cleaning up. Cleaning up your own mess means your family may let you paint more often in the future. Follow the tips below on setting up—and cleaning up—your painting area. A fun painting activity is included.
Watch Permission to Paint
Charles Willson Peale painted his Self-Portrait in 1882, when he was 81 years old. He was an important American artist who devoted his life to art and science, founding the first museum of art and natural history in the United States. He went so far as to name his sons after famous artists: Raphaelle, Titian, Rembrandt, and Rubens. Here we see the artist holding a palette with paints—the tools of the trade.
- Wide, flat container, for water
- Liquid paint, such as gouache or tempera
- Wide, flat containers with lids, for paints
- Cardboard, newspaper, or other protective covering for painting area
- Junk mail
- Palette knife: a little spatula, butter knife, or plastic knife
- Piece of wax paper or aluminum foil to use as a palette
- Paper towels
- Brushes, including one wide, flat brush if you have it (under 1 inch wide)
- Tub/container to hold all paints and supplies
- Optional: floor/work space protection like newspaper, a sheet of plastic, fabric, etc.
Questions to Consider
- Can you find a painting spot that is out of the way?
- Will you be able to leave your space set up or will you have to take it down each time?
1. Set up a painting area. Make sure you can easily reach water and paints; electronic devices are stored away from liquids; and your tabletop is protected with cardboard, newspaper, or other protective material.
2. Choose a piece of junk mail to paint on. (Test a corner to make sure paint works well on the chosen paper.)
3. Using your palette knife, mix paint colors on your palette of wax paper or aluminum foil.
4. Use your paper towel to wipe your palette knife clean before dipping into new colors.
5. With your wide, flat brush, paint in areas of text, photos, or numbers.
6. Choose different colors to paint different areas in a quilt-like pattern.
6. For cleaning up, rinse out all brushes well and tap them dry. Place paper towels and palette in the trash. Paint lids should be closed tightly, water poured out, and all materials stored in a tub. Finally, throw away newspaper or cardboard covering and then wipe down your painting area.
After creating your Junk Mail Cover-Up, consider the following questions:
- How did you choose which junk mail to paint on?
- Would you look for a different piece next time or something similar?
- Does covering over the information change how you 'read' the paper?
We would love to see what you create! Email pictures of your artwork to email@example.com or tag us on any social platform with #deyoungsters.
- Charles Willson Peale, Self-Portrait, 1822. Oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 24 1/8 in. (74.3 x 61.3 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd, 1993.35.22. Photograph © Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
- Process photographs by Raphael Noz