The funny thing about being a full-time artist is that you think everyone else is creating art too. At least planning to anyway. Fortunately, there are responsible people doing the jobs that we artists try to avoid.

This leaves time for me to make more art. Great. But it would be nice to take a break and share these moments with others too. Other people who are not busy doing nasty day jobs. Hmmm…

I know exactly who to call on to join me making creative messes! Those little people who love art and create spontaneously for no reason. Children, of course. Now where can I find some of those little folk?

If you are blessed with grandchildren, you have a wonderful opportunity. Time spent making art with grandchildren has to be one of the most rewarding activities. Ever.

Do Not Be Like These People

It is amazing actually. Many grandparents visit their children but spend very little time with them. What happens is, the grandparents arrive and spend five minutes checking in with the grandkids.

They spend most of the visit talking to the parents about boring stuff. Not to sound harsh, but the typical examples include: Shopping, prices, politics, gossip at the bridge club, the weather.

All that stuff is not very exciting is it? I see this with my own parents and in-laws when they visit. Also, in many other instances with friends and their children.

Action Step Number One: Put the Grandchildren First

Here is a tip. Phone up your kids and tell them you will be around to spend time with the grandchildren. The parents can go off for a date or something. Let them take a break while you get quality time with the grandkids.

Even better: make this a standing arrangement at least once a month.

Action Step Number Two: Preparation

The last thing you want to happen is show up without a plan. Before you know it, junior is bored and wants your cell phone to play with. No way is this going digital! That includes putting on a DVD or cartoons. You can resort to this later when you need an emergency nap.

So, prepare a few creative projects and find the necessary materials. This does not have to cost a lot. It can include things like:

  • scrap paper from magazines;
  • glue stick;
  • safety scissors (or you can tear up paper if it’s more convenient);
  • colored chalk;
  • big crayons;
  • basic poster paints and cheap bristle brushes.

Also, be prepared to make this project safe for your children’s home. No paint on the Persian rug and so forth. Have something, like newspaper, to protect the furniture if this is a messy activity. I know you got this covered.

Action Step Number Three: Get Inspired

If art class was something you did back in the day, you may need to get inspired with new ideas. My go to resource is Pinterest. But you can find plenty of tips in craft books at the library or book store. If you are a Pinterest fan, then you will never run out of ideas for fun creative time with the young tykes.

Paper plate angels, leaf people, hand printing, alphabet letter cut-outs, chalk scribbles, holiday decorations. The list goes on. Most youngsters will come up with ideas too. Or improvise as the mood takes them. As long as you gently let them explore their imagination, the kiddies will have fun.

Forget Perfection

Are you one of those type-A people who tend to take over in the pursuit of perfection? Yes? Then stop it. Let your grandchildren do the fun work and get their hands dirty. Join in too, but what gets produced is not important. It is the process that counts.

Enjoy the Moment

Display their art and make your grandchildren feel special. This will grow their confidence, and they will love you for it. Who knows, you may have inspired tomorrow’s next great artist or designer. But more importantly, you have given yourself a precious moment to savour.

Mindfulness in Creativity

An unexpected benefit of this may be your own well-being. Many retirees discover their creative powers for the first time through such fun moments with expressive art. Even childlike art is a kind of therapy we all can enjoy.


You can find more on this topic with video examples on my blog – from basic materials to painting an expressive portrait in a simple style. You can try something similar when creating with your grandchildren. Start today!


What are your favorite activities when you visit with your grandchildren? Do you enjoy getting messy doing art projects? What is the most recent story you can share? Please do so in the comments below.

Malcolm DeweyMalcolm Dewey is a professional artist and writer. He is passionate about painting in oils and watercolor. Malcolm loves landscape painting. He teaches painting to artists of all levels. Working online on his website and in personal lessons Malcolm helps other artists paint better with structured painting lessons. His Facebook page can be found here.

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