It's happening: my house is slowly being overtaken by the arts and crafts my son brings home from preschool. When he was younger, there was a slow trickle of paintings, enough to decorate the fridge and keep the grandparents happy. In the last few years before starting school however, the arts and crafts production has revved up a notch.
Sorting through a leaning tower of artwork over the weekend, it occurred to me that the majority of my son's oeuvre seems fall into one of nine categories.
If you've got a pre-schooler, I suspect you'll relate to a few of these too…
1. The Rorschach:
The inkblot-like painting (reminiscent of the famous Rorschach psychological test) is a classic, a preschool rite of passage. It's often one of the first paintings to come home, and one of the few that are actually frame-worthy. Traditionally, the Rorschach was used to assess personality characteristics and emotional functioning. Given this particular test is now widely considered to be "pseudoscientific," interpret your child's efforts at own risk. (Thankfully most of them look like butterflies, anyway. And there's really nothing sinister about butterflies…)
2. The pop art:
Okay, so it's not quite Andy Warhol, but there's a lot of pop art coming home in the form of scribbled on pictures of Elsa and Anna, Woody and Buzz and whatever other Disney Pixar book the teachers have next to the photocopier at any given moment.
3. The "we-just-replenished-the-arts-and-crafts-supplies" masterpiece:
Think glitter, all of the glitter. Pink and purple feathers and cupcake patty pans - preschools seems to love a patty pan. Less is not more when it comes to these works of art.
4. The family portrait:
It's pretty exciting when your child graduates from drawing blobs, to drawing blobs that actually (loosely) resemble people. It might not be as big a milestone as the first steps, but those first family portraits are pretty special. Sometimes, they're also rather an interesting window in on the way your child sees the world – and you. In preschool family portraits it's not unusual for the new baby to be conveniently left off the canvas, for mum to be not much taller than the budding artist and for dad to tower BFG-like over everyone, including the family dog. Except you don't have a dog…
5. The Mark Rothko/Paul Klee/Jackson Pollock
You know those paintings you look at and you think, "Wow, my four-year-old" could have done that." I'm talking about the blocks of colour (Rothko) experimenting with shapes (Klee) and the paint splatters (Pollock). Well, your four-year-old probably has. The only difference is, it's hanging on the fridge and not in the Tate Modern. And its value is entirely sentimental.
6. The painting with a very complicated story to it – (their abstract period)
"What's this one?" you ask, pointing to a painting with five brush strokes and a couple of spots. "It's Woody," your little one says. "And that's Buzz. And that's Jessie. And that's Batman. And they're having a picnic. See, there's the cupcakes and popcorn." Duh.
7. The "sculpture":
There's nothing like trying to find space for "Box art" – those lovely re-purposed cereal/Jatz/ice cream tubs covered in anything and everything. And for some strange reason, they're often the pieces our children are most attached to.
8. The embarrassing/funny drawing:
We all know kids say some very funny, and at times, very embarrassing things. As it turns out, the same goes for drawings. One weekend, my husband and I were both sick and, to get through the days, my son was given a little more (a lot more) than the recommended amount of screen time. On Monday when he went off to preschool, he drew a lovely portrait - of the ipad. Parents of the year…
And my niece once drew a picture that, on first viewing, appeared rather phallic. As it turns out, they'd be learning how to draw the letter "T" and when asked to draw something beginning with "T" she chose to draw a tie. It certainly gave her teachers a good giggle.
9. The sentimental favourite:
Handprints for Mothers' Day, Valentines love hearts, and Fathers' Day creations made from paddlepop sticks. No matter how many of these ones come home, there's always a little extra room on the fridge for the sentimental masterpiece.
Have your kids drawn anything particularly funny or embarrassing?