I’m no Neil Buchanan, but that doesn’t stop me from uttering – and adding to – these most famous of words…
“This is a (baby) Art Attack. THIS is a (baby) Art Attack. THIS IS (baby) Art Attack!”
In case you haven’t gathered, this post is about babies and art, namely Baby L’s recent quest to become the next big thing in the art world. This journey has not only seen her create a stunning, contemporary painting all on her own, but has seen it take pride of place in a National Art Gallery…if National Art Gallery means our living room wall.
Let me give you some context. On moving into our house, we put a picture up on the wall behind our sofa. This was one of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters which I had framed and gave to Hay as a present. This was way before the whole “Keep Calm” movement took over the entire world and was actually pretty cool six or so years ago.
But now we have come to hate it. It is everywhere. No, I don’t want to “Keep Calm and Go Shopping”, “Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate” or “Keep Calm and Love One Direction” – what I actually want is for the motto to “Keep Calm and Piss Off”, starting with getting off my frigging wall. There was an issue though – the wall around the picture had faded, meaning that we had the choice of keeping it up, taking it down and having a two-toned wall, or replacing it.
We chose option three. Or at least we attempted to. We spent the best part of six months looking around shops trying to find something we liked, but alas, everything was shit. That’s when the missus had a brainwave (I know, I was surprised).
Why don’t we make our own? Buy a big canvas, get some paint, then let Baby L go to town (metaphorically speaking, she’s a bit too small to get on the bus herself). So that’s exactly what we did.
After ordering some stuff online and sending the missus off to Hobbycraft – her subsequent struggles to put the car seats down and get the canvas in the car could actually be a blog post in itself – we had everything we needed and were ready to crack on. This included:
- 1 x canvas (100x120cm)
- 3 x ready mixed paints (note: the paint says not to be used by kids under 3, but we were very careful to keep hands away from her mouth)
- 1 x masking tape
- 1 x pack of wet wipes
- 1 x paper plate
- 1 x sponge
- 1 x baby
- Step 1: Strangely, the first step involved no paint at all. Instead, it involved putting masking tape onto the canvas in a pattern. We decided to go with a kind of random design, which in hindsight looks a bit like a spiders web or explosion – we chose a centre point on the canvas and then worked outwards with lines from that point. An idea we toyed with was writing a word, but decided against that. In case you’ve never seen 60 Minute Makeover, the masking tape protects the surface from paint, meaning that when you peel it off, you’re left with white lines underneath. Magic!
- Step 2: In order to create a contrast between the white lines under the masking tape and the rest of the canvas, we decided to give it a light purple wash of paint – a technique I picked up on the quite awesome show Watercolour Challenge. We did this by mixing paint on a paper plate, then sponging it on, ensuring that it was all painted in the same direction.
- Step 3: Once the canvas had dried, it was time for Baby L to shine. The idea was to use a few different colours to build on top of each other as the painting progressed. We chose black to start with and poured it onto a paper plate. To avoid mess, we decided to strip Baby L down to her nappy and I too decided to get my kit off – I have plenty of photos of myself in just my boxers if anyone is interested? We’d looked for baby safe paint, i.e. stuff which is mainly water based and non-toxic. However, we couldn’t find any and only really came across ink pads. So, we decided to instead just be REALLY careful and ensure no paint got anywhere near her mouth / eyes. The best method I found was to just dip one hand or foot in the paint at any time, which meant that the danger could be controlled. When done with a hand, use a wet wipe to clean it, then move onto the foot. Another good tip is to take a leaf out of Tom Cruise’s book and use his Mission Impossible technique – if you hold the sprog by the waist parallel with the floor, her hands naturally wanted to touch the canvas and move away from her pretty little face. We then just let her do what she wanted, when she wanted to create random paint smudges all over the canvas. Then leave to dry.
- Step 4: Repeat Step 3, this time using a different colour. Do this as many times as you want until the canvas is covered and you’re happy with the random baby markings. We used four different layers of paint – black, grey, purple and a darker purple.
- Step 5: When the paint has fully dried, take off the masking tape for the big reveal. If everything has gone to plan, then you should be left with some nice clean lines which run throughout the painting.
- Step 6: Hang the canvas on the wall. Stand back and admire it. Contact the local press to tell them that you’ve produced and unearthed an artistic genius.
I know that parents are often overly proud of their child’s accomplishments and may wear the rosiest of rose-tinted glasses, but I’m pretty bloody pleased with the end result from our baby Picasso. The colours go with our living room perfectly, it is a talking point, it is great to know that we did it as a family and it is pretty cool to see random baby footprints, handprints and fingerprints dotted throughout the painting.
What do you reckon? Have you ever done anything like this with your sprog before? Do you want to buy it – I’ll start the bidding at £2k.