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It starts innocently enough at the craft table. A finger-painting here, a toddler-handprint craft there. By the time she gets to kindergarten, things have spiralled out of control. The delicate question of what to do with ALL THE ART is top of mind for parents of young children.

Game designer Leanne Friedberg hit upon a genius idea while in the bathroom at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel. “It’s just this typical bar bathroom,” she explains “but it has all these flyers pasted right onto the wall, and they’re all perfectly aligned.” She adapted the idea for her kids’ rooms when her son, the eldest of the Friedbergs’ two children, was four.

First to go was the idea of applying their artwork directly to the wall. She and her husband arrived at a less permanent but classically beautiful idea of making a triptych. They salvaged three sheets of plywood left from  previous owners and secured them directly to the wall.

Here’s more from Leanne:

“We used acrylic gel medium (available at any art store) to stick the pictures up. If I was doing it again, I’d also recommend using a brayer to get the little air bubbles out. When I ran out of medium I just used childrens’ craft glue watered down. Do be careful if you go that route: kids’ paint tends to be water-based so colours will run.

In the beginning my son wanted to cut everything out first. My daughter produces something like 10 works of art a day. The walls are always changing, and we’re always covering old stuff with new pieces.”

The Friedbergs’ vision is that their kids might want to hang onto these chronicles of their youthful artistic progress. “Every time we throw something new up on the wall, it spurs another art-making binge.”

Leanne and Jeremy originally started this project as a way to counter their older child’s perfectionist tendencies:  he was often gripped by anxiety when it came to putting paintbrush to paper. “We wanted to show him that there’s no such thing as a mistake.” Because the wall is ever-evolving, the process of creating is emphasized over (perfect) product. Her son’s wall has been evolving for the past two years – he’s now six – and her four-year-old daughter has a triptych of her own.

Best of all, once you have the wood frame on the wall, putting up artwork becomes a fun weekly ritual. Perfectionism is thwarted by avoiding the ritual of selecting “the best” artwork to be framed. “It takes away the pressure and permanency of making art,” says Leanne.

Easy-peasy, right? Here’s how it plays out:

 

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