If you have kids, chances are that your house is overrun with artwork. After all, one preschooler alone can generate 10 to 15 pictures a week. You feel guilty pitching something your child created, but there’s only so much real estate on the refrigerator. (And if yours is stainless, you don’t even have that.)
As the camp-arts-and-crafts season wraps up, and school kicks off, now is the perfect time to develop your curating skills to make the most of your kids’ art. Here are some ways to preserve the best, and say goodbye to the rest.
(One note of caution: Be careful tossing the rejects into the garbage where your child might see them. Children have no issues with clutter and may not understand the big picture. Better to wrap in a separate bag or take the trash out immediately after discarding.)
1. Be ruthless. You know that all artwork is not created equally. Now you just have to act on what you know. The masterful Matisse-style snowman clearly belongs in the “yes” pile. But is there any reason to save the macaroni collage that must be treated ever-so gently or the pasta will become unglued? We think not.
2. Hang the gems that remain. Choose a room that has some empty wall space, such as your child’s bedroom or a cheery spot in the dining room. Run a clothesline from one end of the wall to another. Attach the artwork to the line with clothes pins. It’s worth the trouble because you can display a lot of pictures at once. And it’s easy to replace old pictures with new ones.
3. Frame them. Clear acrylic box frames are inexpensive, come in all sizes, and a make a great showcase Or pick up some frames that work well together and mount your artwork on the wall.
4. Brighten up odd spaces.You only have so much wall space, but you can display artwork in less traditional venues. Frame your child’s “Tree of Thanks” picture and hang it in the basement laundry room. You’ll have something to smile about as you’re sorting socks and folding T-shirts.
5. Share the wealth. A hand-crafted picture makes a perfect gift for the uncle who has everything. Write your child’s age, the date, and a title in the corner.
6. Have an art show. Pulling off this event depends on having an adoring crowd of friends or (more likely) relatives who are willing to humor you but also would love to own a few of your child’s originals. Place the items for sale on chairs, couches, the coffee table, and the floor. Price each item at a dollar or less unless you’re going to donate the proceeds to a charity of your child’s choice. In that case, you can charge more. Put on some classy music (Beethoven perhaps?). If you want to go all out, serve cheese and crackers and wine in plastic cups like they do at an art opening.
7. Save your favorites. Buy a big portfolio and carefully save whatever you can’t display, frame, sell, or give away. Remember, the day will come—and it will come much sooner than you think—when your child stops coming home with new masterpieces on a regular basis. As you’re struggling through algebra and world history, it will be such fun to look back on those days of finger paints and crayons. Just wait: you’ll marvel at how far your child has come while recognizing those early signs of genius that were there all along!