Do you remember the excitement that you felt when you discovered that mixing red and yellow paint together makes orange? I sure do! And while painters know the pure pleasure of discovering new colors and moving paint around a canvas, children know this even better. During a memorable Art Truck Painting Party at a local preschool, a three year-old boy taught me a lesson in the joy, and power, of paint.
On the morning of our visit the studio was filled with young artists eager to paint. Before we started painting we had a lighthearted discussion about colors, shapes and lines. Little fingers drew shapes and squiggly lines in the air to illustrate knowledge of complex geometric shapes, while the names of favorite colors rolled off their excited tongues. These kids were primed and ready to paint! So, equipped with fresh brushes the little artists dipped into containers glistening with primary, neon and glittery paints while we watched the discoveries unfold.
“Look at this!” exclaimed one little girl as she watched blue bump into yellow and magically turn green. Then, feeling satisfied with this new color, she promptly added it to her canvas of red, blue and yellow shapes.
At the same time, a three-year old boy was quietly painting his canvas in all shades of purple; just purple. This boy had discovered purple through a process of mixing and bumping and was committed to it, using a Chinese ink brush to apply delicious swirls of purple paint to his canvas world. While a wide smile never left his face, neither did a single word escape his mouth. He painted for 25 minutes in silence, a completely happy painter of purple.
Now, as much as we provide structure and guidance during our projects, we encourage experimentation and play. Process and creativity rule in The Art Truck! So even as I softly suggested to the “painter of purple” that he might add a dash of yellow or splash red to his wonderful painting, and he just smiled at me and continued to move purple around, I knew his response was okay. He was simply on his own purple path. How wonderful to be young and free!
A little later, as the children lined up to return to their classroom the “painter of purple” suddenly broke his silence and erupted in words that stopped all of us – teachers and students – in our tracks:
“This was the best day ever!” he exclaimed at the top of his lungs as he gleefully strode away, balancing his prized, purple painting in his hands, all the while smiling back at us as we waived him on with joy. Purple has been my favorite ever since.