My three grandchildren and their senior staff visited me in Milwaukee for a week in August and we enjoyed every minute, but none more than the afternoon they all asked to paint. We had just been to the spectacular Milwaukee County Zoo on a gorgeous sunny day, where we enjoyed a Behind the Scenes tour of the Big Cat exhibit — we were up close and personal with some very big cats! Upon returning to my apartment, Jack, James and Charlotte wanted to paint their impressions of the day.
The children helped set up the studio area, chose their paint colors, carefully squeezed the paint from the tubes onto palette paper, and listened as I told them to rinse their brush in water before loading it with a different paint color. Then they sat down and began to work — play, really, as their imaginations took over. Jack (8 yrs) decided to paint from a photo I’d taken of jaguar Frankie reclining — he spent almost an hour painstakingly — successfully — creating the proportions (positive and negative space, intuitively) and the colors. James (6 yrs) chose a jaguar and Charlotte (4 yrs going on 21!) painted a jaguar with tiger and then an elephant outdoors.
I was intrigued, as always, by the ease with which they began their compositions, the attention they gave as they added elements and their increased ability to use the brush as a brush and not as a pencil or crayon. Perhaps I find watching them paint so delightful because they automatically include only the essential details, leaving out all the extraneous stuff which is so often a problem for me.
I LOVE James’s signature, so bold on the painting of a Jaguar outside on a sunny day — and their mom loved that these finished canvases would be Christmas presents for the relatives. LOL. They confidently enjoyed every minute of their time spent expressing their imaginations in color — I’m inspired.