The whole art thing doesn't have to be as serious as people (like your friend) make it out to be! I love to let very young children explore with paint! I say that if your 6 year old is interested, and you are willing, go ahead... ignore the friend. I was a 6 year old once and was very interested in painting, and I'm so glad my parents took my interest seriously because art has become a great joy in my life.
If you're just teaching about colors and mixing and such as that, the kids washable paints are great! I think Crayola makes some affordable ones that wash easily. You can mix them into just about any color you need, so you'd just need the primary colors plus black and white. There are much better options out there these days besides the cheap cake watercolors and tempera paint, and some nice kid-friendly acrylics are being made.
If you're trying to create a more professional looking finished product, then the washable ones may leave you wanting because they just don't have the texture and consistency of tube paints. But they are great for a beginner.
I did an art class at our co-op with young children, with the average age being about 6. We mostly used "craft paints," the kind that come in the little bottles. We didn't have any problem with it staining tables and such, but it could stain clothing if it wasn't seen and washed immediately. (Smocks would have prevented this, but we forgot to do the smocks.) Sometimes I mixed just a squirt of clear liquid handsoap into the paint, too, and that made it come off more easily. This was mostly for just enjoying the painting experience and not for good-quality finished products. But the kids had fun!
For what it's worth, if your child has a sincere interest in painting, a set of tube acrylics isn't that costly and if used with care they shouldn't cause much problem. Just keep the surfaces covered and have them wear a shirt that is just used for painting. My daughter has used tube acrylics since she was 5, and we haven't had any issues with it. She loved that they seemed so grown up, and treats them with great care and respect.
I am in a small minority because I used OIL paint from the time I was 6! This was under the instruction of a sweet old lady who gave lessons in her basement, and when she told me about the options I chose oils because they are so workable and I just loved the smell and feel of them. Clean-up was a real hassle, though, and I wouldn't recomment this unless the child is really
quite serious about art. Great thing is, though, that I still have a couple of my very first tubes of oil paint... and I'm 34 now. They are still usable, and they were purchased 28 years ago!
My advice: get some affordable kid-friendly acrylics and a nice set of brushes... definitely not the cheapest ones... and let your daughter see how she likes painting. Teach her about color and mixing and let her explore it. If it is a real interest that she'd like to pursue, then go in a little deeper and get her some better quality paints. I can't comment about ICDAT and its appropriateness... I haven't used it.
Foam egg cartons, cut in half or even smaller sections, make great disposable paint mixing trays. Both the
hollows and the flat portions can be used, and they make a great place to lay brushes.
... a forgiven child of God since 1994 (age 16)
... happily wed to William since 1996
... mother of our long-awaited Gail (3/15/2006)
... missing 5 little ones (3 miscarriages, 2 ectopics)
... enjoying ECC for grade three!