Be honest, how often do you create really ‘messy art’ at home? Us: er…maybe once or twice a year.. in the garden. Painting and playdoh I can handle, but I could probably be more creative with potato printing and craft making.
Of course, kids love getting messy with art and often have the chance at pre-school or nursery but you can also get involved in quite unique classes run by ‘The Colour Club’ – The practical creative sessions for families of children aged 1-10, use an illustrated story as a spring board for making art together. They last around an hour and can involve making, painting, printing, sculpting.
We went along to one of The Colour Club’s Gruffalo events and had a fantastic time! We listened to the Gruffalo story and then we were briefly instructed in how to make our own Gruffalo costume out of a huge paper bag with ‘terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws!’ Ed and I then got to it, cutting, painting, sticking and getting messy. We loved it! Ed particularly enjoyed wearing it at the end and making Gruffalo roars!
Former art and design teacher, Jennifer Beetson started The Colour Club in March after 11 years in two secondary schools. The mother of three, including twins, wanted more time with her children and left teaching for her new idea. The project came from a love of both reading and art, she said, ‘I have always loved reading to my children and I found myself making art with them that linked the two. It makes a big mess but I realised that I was quite tolerant to this. When I stopped teaching, I thought, ‘make that space, set the stage for big ideas, show parents that they can do this!’
Jennifer has gathered quite an array of materials and aims to keep the concepts and techniques varied. She said, ‘I always have fun in mind and laughter is central. I also love loud music, so I wanted to bring that in, whether it’s Run DMC or Nick Drake I wanted to make a creative space that was filled with sound which is why it’s the Colour Club.’
Our experience certainly was fun and we loved the connection between the story and making something. Jennifer made everyone feel comfortable at the beginning – if little ones talk or wander off to explore, then that’s fine. During the activity, she reassured some kids who thought they ‘couldn’t do it’ and gave us simple worksheets with a number of Gruffalo ideas. At the end it was quite funny to watch all the mini Gruffalos walking around!
The Colour Club encourages both artistic expression and language development. ‘Stories fill our head with images and provide such a rich platform for us to listen and watch our child navigate humanity and ultimately understand themselves a bit,’ said Jennifer. ‘It gives us a chance to ask or answer “Why did Max want to give up being King of All Wild Things?” “Can a scary looking monster ever be quiet?” Young children also need to be encouraged to be expressive so that the idea of ‘being good at art equals being good at drawing’ disappears…You can be a brilliant artist without being able to draw.’
To parents who are keen to be creative but don’t know where to start, Jennifer suggests, ‘Get the potatoes out! If you are handy with a scalpel or have some interesting cookie cutters create a bowl full of different shapes and put dollops of red, blue and yellow on different paper plates with a big stretch of paper on the floor. No water! Shut the doors to the other rooms and plan a method of cleaning your paint covered child when they are finished.’
Or of course, you could just go along to a Colour Club event. Coming up next are two half-term workshops for 7+ and 11+ running at Smokey Joes Diner, Cheltenham on 22 and 24th October. First is ‘Candy Sushi’ – using all kinds of candy and marshmallow crispy stuff to recreate an array of wonderful sushi and the second is ‘Black-Out Poetry– a really creative illustrative activity that teases poetry out of prose by obscuring the majority of a page of type.
There is also another Gruffalo event on 27th October. The Colour Club offers discounts for twins and also offers children’s party events. Details can be found on The Colour Club Facebook page here. You can follow The Colour Club on Instagram here.
We were invited along to review the ‘Gruffalo’ event and Jennifer is a fellow ‘MumBoss’.