Friday, September 12, 2008

Paint Primer

This is taken from the September 2008 issue of Wondertime Magazine, page 29. I just thought it was a great reminder for those of us with kids (or maybe it will help you remember how to be a kid).

Back when I was little, kids who wanted to paint had three options. There was the cheapo box of rockhard watercolor tablets with a six-hair paintbrush for scraping pigment onto the Horses of the World booklet. Or the upended gallon of house paint on the driveway, applied to the picnic table until someone came out and said something to you in "French." Or the sturdy easels at kindergarten, where not much painting took place because adults wouldn't acknowledge that men's old dress shirts were bigger than 5-year-olds. (We all stood with both arms in the air like we were habing conversion experiences when actually we were just keeping our smocks on.)

But painting can be truly memorable when it's done right: washable formulas, responsive paints with rich pigments, and tools that are kid-sized but still high quality. The enchantment of paint, at first, has nothing to do with making a picture. The appeal is just the stuff itself: the earthy smell of it, the gooshy smear of it. Then kids feel the transformative power of paint, turning a perfectly white expanse of paper wet and red. Pretty soon they get the idea to turn the paint into images of things they know about - first the sun, then Mom. After that, bottles of paint become little bottles of potential. - Lynne Bertrand

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