We've somehow managed to acquire quite the collection of art supplies for wimps - the "mess-free" chemically-laden stuff that promises all the fun of art without the mess.
As far as I can tell, the stuff works because it's too boring to use. Voila! No mess! The Color Wonder coloring books don't let you color outside of the lines, Aquadoodle lets you express yourself anyway you want as long as it's in blue and those paint with water books manage to be messy and yawn-inducing.
I can't bring myself to use this stuff with my kid even tough we have it at home. It's boring for me and for him. But give him plain old paper and pencil and he can entertain himself for a while.
I wonder if Van Gogh's mom worried about the mess when he was a kid?