I did not do much with paints and other messy crafts until my dd was at least 4 - I'll be totally honest here - I found it took a lot of time to set up and there was a LOT of cleanup for about 5 minutes of fun on dd's part. I don't even have markers or playdough in my house for the cleanup reason (mean mama). however, when the weather is warm, it is great fun to set up the easel and paints OUTSIDE where you don't have to worry so much!
we did do a lot with crayons and colored pencils and chalk... I used to feel guilty that I wasn't one of those moms who did a lot of art projects, but now that dd is older we DO do a lot, so I guess you just see what feels right.
most of the things I did with dd when she was under 2 were musically oriented - lots of singing and dancing, learning songs in other languages, learning mother goose rhymes, etc - i checked books out of the library which had the tunes to the mother goose rhymes so I could learn as many songs as possible. we also had a lot of nature walks.
i think the main thing is to do what you enjoy doing with your child, and not worry that you aren't doing the things you "ought" to be doing. The Toddler's Busy Book (also the Preschooler's Busy Book) by Trish Kuffner is a great source of ideas.