“There is more learning in a good picture than in twenty workbooks.” – John Holt
Unfortunately, I have no photos from the past few afternoons – I’ve been too absorbed in what I’m doing to take pictures. But I wish there was some way to show you, so you could see and feel everything. Someone brought a donation of real tubes of watercolors with the thick water color paper. I brought it over to the property along with some books of art to see if I could get anyone to paint with me. I want to push them beyond coloring books. They will sit and color in coloring books, but if you ask them to paint something original, it’s difficult.
I introduced the new paint in this way – I showed some of the kids the box of paints, and told them this is a very special type of paint. It’s not for children. This is paint that real artists use. Do you want to see? And I showed them some famous paintings in the books I brought. They were mesmerized. I sat down with a 16 year old and told him about the primary colors and we mixed them together on a plastic plate making orange, green and purple out of red, yellow, and blue. He had never done this before and was amazed. He sat and painted a beautiful wave. And that’s how it began. Child after child from young ones to teenagers came and I showed them how to mix the colors, helped them find inspiration and turned them loose to paint. They painted all afternoon.
So, today, I wasn’t sure what exactly we would do, but sure enough, some kids pulled up on their bikes and immediately asked to paint again. I pulled out the paints and paintbrushes and before I knew it the entire table was crammed full of children wanting to paint. I could see so much improvement in the kids who painted two days in a row. Their concentration improved, their understanding of the paint and the overall quality of their paintings was much better the second day.
I wanted to share this with you because I think it is fascinating that kids truly know the difference between a “child’s” paint and real paint. I think kids deserve to paint with the real thing. To experience the feel of that smooth paint flowing over paper and create whatever is on their heart to create. To spend a few hours in concentration on what they are doing.
“They should at least be exposed to the idea that art can be, not just a diversion, but a very powerful way of getting in touch with and expressing reality.” – John Holt
I have to tell you I was a little bit overwhelmed with emotion helping those beautiful children paint, others were playing with playdough, others playing board games, others skating, others playing soccer. I could overhear conversations, talking about seeing each other at church and asking if they were going to go again. Making new friends. A few moms and dads came with little ones and played playdough and bingo with their children. What a blessing to be able to provide this place where the community can gather, enjoy and be together in a loving, safe environment. It truly is an oasis in the midst of the chaos of this town.