Little Picassos

Your young artist keeps churning out one masterpiece after another. Here's how to display the best of it.

Focus on Children's Art

February 27, 2005|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

Making art is one of a child's earliest creative acts. It's evidence of his development, a springboard for discussion, a key to his soul. And, let's face it, a storage dilemma for his parents.

From a toddler's first doodles to a teenager's elaborate painting, kids generate thousands of pieces of art at home and school. The refrigerator holds only so much. Yet throwing away a young one's creation can feel just wrong.

We turned to professional organizers and parents for tips on putting kids' work in its place - some of them just as creative as the art itself.

Sort it. Keep drawings and paintings for a while, then get your child involved in choosing favorites to keep - and others to toss.

"It is an important life lesson for your child to learn that not every single thing they draw merits being kept," says Baltimore professional organizer Amy Rehkemper. "The most important part of their artwork was their experience creating it, not the experience of watching it collect dust on the kitchen table."

Recycle it. Wrap gifts in pieces the kids are willing to part with. Or use several old works of art to create a new one.

Give it, periodically, to a relative or close friend. Far-away grandparents will especially appreciate receiving this tangible connection to their grandchildren.

Display it. But don't use the refrigerator, says Silver Spring professional organizer Sara Wiggins. "Even the youngest child will soon figure out that it is not a place of honor," she says. Instead, choose a wall with room for a gallery. Frames (inexpensive ones can be found at stores like Ikea) are a nice touch.

Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz of Ellicott City recently consolidated some of the artwork by her two older children into a trifold frame that holds about 36 pictures. (Much of the rest is saved in an old pharmacy cabinet.)

Photograph it. When the gallery is getting too crowded, take a picture of all the art - then dispose of the bulky originals.

Laminate it. Professional organizer Rose Zappa-Jehnert helps her grandchildren turn their creations into placemats with a simple laminator.

Create a portfolio. Buy an archival-quality portfolio and make a coffee table book of art. Or create a book or a calendar online at a site like

Make a screensaver. Scan the art at work or on your home computer, and get a colorful reminder of your child every time you log on.

Create a keepsake - or just something useful. At, you can order t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, mouse pads and greeting cards decorated with your child's work.

Make it really last. For the truly special piece - and those who have the means - a New York company called Little Kids Big Art will transfer and enlarge your young one's masterpiece onto a museum-quality canvas. The cost ranges from about $150 for a 22x30 print on watercolor paper to $575 for a 36x48 canvas with gallery frame. For information: or 212-966-1327.

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