A couple of posts ago I talked about colouring outside the lines and how important it is to let children have that freedom. I'd like to expand that a bit with some ideas on how.
Have paper and wax & pencil crayons/felt pens/paint handy. Having a dedicated area/table with readily available encourages the child to explore those creative outlets when the mood/idea strikes him/her. Forcing or 'heartily encouraging' a child to do something is counterproductive. If it is something they don't want to do at that time it could stifle future desires and therefore reduce the pre-literacy skill development free art offers.
Don't tell the child what to create, giving suggestions is fine, but make it a short list of different topics. If they want to create and the material is available, then they won't need to have promptings. If they just want to slap paint or scribble, let them. Ask them to tell you about it, maybe it is just scribbles-"nothing" but still comment positively on it. Comment on the colours, the use of the space ("you covered this paper really well") and ask if they like it or don't like it. Post it up on the wall or fridge. When you want to take it down, put it in a box labeled with the child's name.
I know that the artwork can really pile up in a really short time, and the labeled box gives the child the sense that you value his effort even though it is not on display anymore. Every few months (or when the box becomes full) weed out the boxed work. Depending on the child's age, you can involve them in the weeding process, remembering to emphasize that everyone needs to get rid of stuff they like. With that in mind, involve him/her in weeding something of yours. They could place your unused articles in a box/bag for charity. Most people have 'stuff' they can weed out.
This example (them helping to declutter our 'junque') can also be applied to creativity, do paint, colour or draw with your child. The dust bunnies will wait but the child's moment at that age won't and you'll never be able to capture it again. It doesn't matter if you "can't" draw--it isn't about creating a fine art piece or saleable craft, it is about helping your child to develop those very important pre-literacy skills...and developing or strengthening a bond between yourself. You two just may create similar work...remember it isn't to be sold, but to be displayed in the home to say "look what I can create!" Everyone can do art, can create or move a crayon around on a piece of paper. Can't colour within the lines? Then don't restrict yourself. And don't restrict your child to only colouring books. They do have value, but free eye-hand movement is very important.
Let's colour outside of the lines...free our inner selves!