Take a look at your refrigerator door. Besides the magnets and school schedules and lunch menus, chances are, it holds your child’s drawings and paintings — like a little art gallery.
If you had room on the fridge for all the artwork (we’re talking years here), everything would be fine. But, of course, you don’t. So there is art on your dining room table, bedroom cabinets, and behind closet doors.
Once school starts, the artwork will flow again. Saving every scrap of creativity that enters your home doesn’t make for great living conditions. Fortunately, there are other options when it comes to handling your child’s masterpieces, and now’s the time to take control.
The wheat from the chaff
Twice a school year, summer break and holiday break, purge the artwork. You can automatically toss everything that was made with anything edible, as well as anything created with poster paint or glitter.
Also, give yourself permission to toss “poor” artwork. Sometimes kids are just doodling and scribbling, so don’t feel obligated to save every squiggle.
Once you’ve eliminated the obvious, sort art into categories: seasonal art, drawings, awards, samples of writing, and so on. Once you’ve done that, choose only the best in each category. If you’re having trouble deciding what to keep, ask the artist to help decide what stays and what goes. What goes doesn’t necessarily go into the trash. Send artwork and school samples to relatives or scan them into the computer and send them via e-mail. If storage space is at a premium, consider scanning or taking digital photos of artwork, storing it on your hard drive or a CD, and then tossing the originals. (For extra-special pieces, take a picture of your child holding the art.) Once they’re in the computer, turn some into screensavers, and print out others to use as note cards.
Art-supply stores usually sell large, flat boxes for storing artwork. Nowhere to put them? Lillian Vernon offers the School Days Chest, a sturdy cardboard six-drawer system that can accommodate several years of work. The chests stack each on top of the other, so if you have two kids, you can keep several years of art in the same vertical space.
Many kids are at-home artists, so it’s not just the art, but also the supplies that make clutter. Designate space in one room as the “artist’s corner” and get a storage unit for markers, crayons, paint, art paper, and brushes. A system of open bins, such as Lillian Vernon’s Wood Organizer with Storage Bins, is great for keeping art supplies in one place. The bins may be taken out while supplies are in use, then put back in the rack.
Art should be seen and enjoyed, without devouring your space. With a little planning, you can showcase your child’s best work — and contain the rest.