So my Kindergarten-age spawn won the "Most Colorful" award in her school art show.
I can't really take any credit, aside from letting her use my "grown-up" watercolors. Just as they say the cobbler's children wear no shoes, so does this former art teacher's daughter receive very little art instruction. I've seen too many children her age forced into artistic conformity. It's so very heartbreaking when a seven-year old says, "My dad says I can't draw cats good. I'm a horrible artist!"*
So I only help my kids with art when they ask for it.
But shall I reveal what I believe to be the secret of successful art projects?
Use adult-quality materials.
If you give your kid the super-crappy 99cent Wal-Mart brand watercolor set and some computer printer paper, they're going to be disappointed and frustrated with their creation. It is simply impossible to create satisfying artwork using sub-par materials. When I taught kids' art classes, my supply fee was often a little higher than other teachers' fees, maybe $20 to their $12. And that was because I went to the art supply store and bought actual supplies instead of the cheap junk from school supply stores. Not the most expensive stuff, of course. But good enough that the children and their parents were always pleasantly surprised by the end result.**
That painting up there-- which was required by the school!-- was made using my own personal watercolor palette, one of my brushes, and a double-wrapped canvas. I just reminded her to wash her brush and dry it off on a paper towel in between colors and left the room. There was no discussion of what she was going to paint or how. That's simply what she did of her own free will.
And, honestly, I don't think my direction could have improved it a single bit.
* It was a joy, teaching that girl how to draw a cat and watching her gain confidence. She was a ginger with a fantastic smile. She gave me a drawing of a rhinoceros that I still keep in my studio and repeated my class for a year.
** Note that this doesn't necessarily apply to crafts. I think it's fantastic, giving your kids egg cartons and greeting cards and old buttons and just letting them go to town. I'm talking strictly about fine art-- watercolors, acrylics, colored pencils, pastels, oil pastels.