Off-the-wall uses for kids' art

Elementary schools have a knack for turning children into prolific artists. What they usually don't teach, however, is "portfolio management." That's left to parents, who ooh and aah over the works of their junior Rembrandts and O'Keeffes while wondering what to do with the relentless stream of paintings, drawings, paper sculptures, and ceramic pots.

Parents faced with this dilemma are the target audience for "Mom's Little Book of Displaying Children's Art," by Lisa Bearnson ($16.95, Creating Keepsakes Books).

Although Ms. Bearnson includes pointers for using children's art for gift wrap, cards, and presents, her primary focus is on demonstrating innovative ways to display art around the home, whether on walls, in scrapbooks, or even on clock faces and computer mouse pads.

The average American child, she says, brings home two or three pieces of artwork weekly, or about 1,200 by age 12. A parent's job is knowing what to keep and how to keep it.

Bearnson offers two guidelines: Keep art that showcases originality and save things that have personal meaning, such as self-portraits or drawings of family members or the house and yard.

When the original is a hard-to-save, three-dimensional object, take a picture of it. In fact, photographing, color copying, and computer scanning even flat artwork is often advisable. This provides good-quality copies of kids' art as well as an image that can be cropped without destroying the original.

Parents don't often consider the potential of using a part or section of a larger work, but it can frequently be done to good advantage. A nice drawing of a flower, for example, can be enlarged and laminated to create a bookmark.

To execute any of these ideas, Bearnson explains, requires diligence on the grownup's part. "It's up to a watchful parent," she reminds, "to spot an especially pleasing, decorative image and single it out for public display."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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