Granting kids real freedom to paint…


There’s a lot of expectations and instructions given to a child on any normal day. ‘Do this, do that, try this, don’t do this… yes, no….’. All these are part and parcel of growing up as a child. As I allowed my children the freedom to paint as they wish, i discovered how precious such moments were as I observed how they went about working on their painting. What’s the connection to my first point?

When I saw how they considered (yes, they took time to think of how, where to paint and what colours to choose for each move) and mused over their own paintings. The scene struck a chord in me. This was One of those times (other than own free play) when they need not worry over what instructions to follow, and they were allowed the space to exercise their OWN judgement and make their OWN decisions over their works! Don’t get me wrong, there is a time for directed learning even for art, just that in this post, I want to share on the importance of giving children the freedom to paint as they wish entirely on their own. It is such a break from the daily routine of being told to do this and that (which is all a matter of living). What moved me was the fact that all 3 of them were so engrossed in their own work that there was absolute PEACE in the house! What amazed me was how my middle son was able to do that for One and a Half hours! He is the most active amongst them all, and cannot stand still for even a minute for instructions!It dawned on me that his attention span has grown formidably as I engaged them in art making.

Throughout the whole process, he kept asking me what I thought of his work and asked if I liked his or the brother’s work better. I assured him that all their works were unique as each work has their own characteristics.  After several assurances, he finally was satisfied to continue his great endeavour.

To adults, that is ‘abstract’ works of art. Unrecognisable forms of art. To my eldest, that is his roller paint playful art, to my second one, it is a person going through many meandering tunnels that brings him to the mountain in the center of his painting, and to my youngest, it’s (from what I see) just pure fun and the freedom to explore. Who knows the depths of their thinking and imagination? Throughout, I only asked ‘ Would you like to tell me more about your work?’ And if there was no response, i just left it as that. Nevermind if I don’t know fully or understand them all.  I can appreciate the vibrant colours and respect their self-expression. I can admire their courage to paint with childlike faith and innocent imagination. I can put up their works of art as a declaration of love and value. The beauty of allowing them freedom to draw and paint is the freedom from judgement of performance. One doesn’t need to be literate, smart, happy, talented (even in art for that matter), sociable, (you get my point) in order to do art. One just needs the heart and materials, time and space to do so.


Young children are capable of making their own decisions and can generate great works of art. Just a note, that for pure self expressive works like these, i do not interfere with their selection of colours and choice of materials they want to work with. Full freedom to paint is given.However, it must be kept within the boundaries of the huge paper that i have provided. I love giving them mega space to work as this promotes a lot of physical freedom to move around and exercise their psycho motor skills as well.

1-2014-03-132 A very useful way of containing water mess!

I do however, teach them and train them to learn how to use their materials. I also limit them to the basic primary colours and white colour. This helps to give them more focus in their painting process as they need not spend too much time pondering over which colours to choose from an 8 or 12 paint colours . the basic colours also allows them to see how secondary colours form if they were to mix them together. The above container was from the love letters goodies I had emptied. This container helped prevent spills and splashes when washing their tools and hands. With this, i can train my kids to fill up the water halfway and carry it back to the hall without fear of spillage. When they took turns to wash their tools, the height helped prevent splashes and even my active and small ones did a very good job in cleaning up their brushes before applying the next colour.  For this mega paintings, I recycled my plastic bowls for them to use as palettes and squeezed paint for their work. I also provided rollers, paintbrushes, recycled toothbrushes, sponges for a range of tools to work with.


A smaller scale poster paint experience.

On another occasion, i settled for a normal painting session with posters. My lovely ex colleagues gave me this set of solid puzzle stand poster set which was perfect for their handling. It doesn’t topple easily and they can just take a colour and dig in. I also recycled plastic egg cartons as palettes and used the cover for them to put their brushes when not in use. Teaching them how to wash their brushes carefully, dry the brushes with a rag and using a new colour took some time to train. Nontheless, it will mean a smooth painting journey into the future once they get the hang of things.

When was the last time you LET IT GO? (grin) Just let them go and paint to their hearts’ content and be amazed by what they share of their works from the heARTS!

May you enjoy the HeArty time with your lil ones!

(This is an after comment on how a local mum did it her way using the above post’s ideas.) 

Do check out another version of Big scale painting at StayatHomeMumofThree. It is so exciting to see how other mums and kids explore art in our local context! Do join me on Growing Hearts’ Facebook page if you have an Art activity to share! : )


  1. Hihi, no need for such admiration, lol. I really don’t need to clean up much. I simply hung ikea’s shower cutains on the walls and covered the floor with my old curtains and mats! Voila, no need for clean up. 😁 I just reuse them. Gd thing is, my kids don’t have skin allergies. I simply take down the shower curtains when there are guests.

  2. Hi Angelia – Wow I love it that you’re allowing the kids to grow their creativity at such a young age. Parents play a BIG part and your “generosity”(?) in allowing your kiddos THE ENTIRE ROOM to create is admirable! I hope I can do so in due time! haha!

    • Hi Ruth, Thanks for dropping by! Ha, it’s partly because we have this extra space area(not really a room) and I am well, an art teacher… so I was thrilled when I moved to this spacious flat and could afford to let this space be a creative space. : ) Actually any corner will do too! Glad to have you here and looking forward to read more from you too!

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