"Don't you just love green?" asked our young friend while we painted. In that one instant, that expression of the pure joy of color, he brought us back to the real reason we became artists.
"Yes, I do. In fact, I don't think there is any color I am not for. Is that your favorite?" I asked.
"Yeah, but not the only one," he sagely replied.
What a wonderful thing it is to be reminded of the purity of a child's creativity. At Drew's age, he has not been taught theories and has not been told the "right" ways of drawing and painting. He just paints the world the way he feels at the moment. He is not worried about the quality level of his brushes and Prang paints either. With remarkable concentration for a seven year old, he painted with us for hours, and was finally forced to clean up for dinner. He reminded me so much of myself at that age. I resolved then that I would encourage his painting in any way I could.
|John and Drew plein air painting in Rocky Mountain National Park.|
The next day Ann, Drew and I drove into Rocky Mountain National Park and up to Sprague Lake to paint. We had our plein air painting backpacks and Drew had his. I loaned him some good Richeson watercolor brushes and a spare John Pike palette filled with artist's paint and supplied him with Arches paper. This was one of his first real plein air painting experiences, and I wanted him to have all the advantages. Utterly fearless, he dove right in to drawing Hallett's Peak and its reflection in Sprague Lake on his paper.
"What colors should I use?" he asked. I must confess that I have never been asked that particular question before. What he meant to ask was how to get started – water, mountain or sky first. Careful not to tread too strongly on his own ideas, I suggested a way to work and what colors to begin with. That was all he needed. It kind of took my breath away to see him just go to work like that. Part way through the painting I showed him the different kinds of marks our brushes could make and how different amounts of water can change the way the paint flows. I can't say that advice made any technical difference to his painting, but I found out later that he memorized what I had said.
I have not had the opportunity to meet many children who are as serious about making art as Drew is. As much as I enjoy teaching painting to adults, helping a child is immensely pleasurable and gives us the satisfaction that in some way we may be able to make a difference in a young artist's life. Who knows what he might become?
Which reminds me – we need to send him a good set of paints and brushes before he "grows out of it".
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–John and Ann