Conlyn Byrd creates both art and a mess with a chalk slurry at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center's Messy Mondays. The drop-in class for toddlers and their parents is at 10:30 every Monday until Aug. 5. [Courtesy photo / MARC]

It’s about making art.

And making messes.

Toddlers and their parents are welcome to do both each at 10:30 a.m. on Mondays until Aug. 5 at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC).

When toddlers and their parents are done making their masterpieces, they can leave the mess behind.

“People can drop in with their child. At the end, they leave with a piece of art,” said Ariel Atkins of the MARC. “The only mess they need to deal with is the mess that may be on the child.”

Atkins said one little boy needed to be hosed off before he went home after a morning of playing with tempura paints.

“They were painting with their feet and hands and every paintbrush we had out,” Atkins said. “A bunch of colors were mixed on giant pieces of paper we had rolled out.”

The young artist that later needed to be hosed off took art to the next level by painting his feet and then running on the paper to make footprint art.

“It looks like he was having fun, and it looked like he was tired when he was done,” Atkins said. “He painted every adult in the room by the time he was done.”

The goal is to break down barriers to artistic expression. That includes using mediums that haven’t been used before, such as the week they mixed colored chalk with water to create a slurry of chalk.

Kari Han has been teaching the Messy Mondays class at the MARC for the past few years. She had toddlers and realized that most of the art classes in town were geared toward children that were age five and older.

She has a background in early childhood education and spent 12 years working as a nanny in Denver before she had three children of her own. She learned that the best way to have children feel comfortable is to use art.

“And let them get messy,” she said.

And that may involve their whole body.

“You want them to appreciate that they can create things in their own way,” Han said. “Have their whole bodies involved in making the art is a good way to do that.”

There may even be a little science included, such as using salt with watercolors where the color is attracted and travels through the salt crystals.

While the science may not be explained to the toddlers, they are able to experience it.

And so do the parents.

Han has found that parents begin to relax over the course of the classes. In the beginning they may want to make sure everything is nice and tidy.

“You can see parents hesitant at the first couple of classes,” Han said. “But parents begin to realize it doesn’t need to remain clean and perfect.”

And they start enjoying the creative process. One of the classes that was best enjoyed by parents included blowing paint through a straw.

Han admits that she doesn’t like to do certain art activities at home, such as using glitter, but it is more freeing and fun to do it at the MARC where there is permission to make a mess.

As Atkins said, parents and children take home art and leave a mess.

“There may be paint on the floor, the walls, or even the ceiling, and we clean it up,” she said.