Adventure with Paint

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Okay, if you are a very neat person who becomes squeamish at the thought of open paint jars inside your house then you may not want to venture any further. Painting, like so many things, can be a skilled, learned, and practiced form of artistic expression, or it can be a free-for-all fling of wildly matched and mixed colors with no thought to drawing anything that resembles…well, anything.

Such was the case today. With wild abandon, some mild guidance, and the only “rule” being to keep the paint on the table top (not floor, clothing, walls et al), papers were gathered, paper plates laid out for mixing, water for vain attempts at cleaning brushes was poured, and strings for string art were snapped to manageable lengths. Then came the choice of paint colors.

First attempts with watercolor paint ended in bleached out drawings. We then switched to string art.

“What is string art?” you ask.

It is simply dipping string into paint, laying it down on a folded piece of paper, folding the paper, applying pressure with one hand on top of the paper while you pull the string out from the fold. The final result is always amazing (see picture).

At the beginning we used watercolor paints, rolled the string up, added water to the paints, and then pressed the string down with our fingers so it would absorb the colors. Did you know that not all watercolor paints are truly washable? We ended up with purple and red fingertips that took several hand washes to almost come clean. Due to that experience, we switched to finger-paints…which also require a bit of hand washing but not as intense as the watercolors.

After a couple of string arts, it was time for Jeremiah to become creative with the finger paints. Attempting to keep “some” control of the forthcoming artistic endeavors, a choice of 5 finger-paint paint colors were made available. Jeremiah quickly picked out five colors and we were soon pouring them into the paper plates to use as our paint palette. Large paper and colored construction paper served as the canvas for works of art only a parent (or grandparent) could love. Brushes in hand and we were off!

He dipped the paintbrush in one color and applied it to his “canvas.” He then took a swab of more than one color, swirling the paints in his paper plate, and applied that mix to his painting. A dab here, a swipe there, a reaching out to paint Pa’s picture in mid-stroke to add his personal touch, then back to swishing and squishing paints on several pieces of paper.

Oh did I mention that we used large paper and construction paper as our paint canvases? Did I also forget that when a moment of creativity hits, it might lead you off in a direction that is interesting if only for the moment? Yes, when the paper canvas became too passé Jeremiah turned to his hands and preceded to paint the hand that was not holding the paintbrush.

From a marbled appearance to a blotchy purple, he created a bit of living art right there on his hand (both sides of course). He was then able to do prints of both the top and bottom of his hand on his paper canvas which of course added to the complexity of his masterpiece.

The end result of our painting session? Over 12 paintings, 6 colored paper plates (top and bottom…) and hours of fun, creativity, and excitement at experimenting with paint.

In a way kind of like life at times. I know there are rules, written, unwritten, and those that bind me by tradition, and I attempt to follow them as much as I can. However, sometimes I stick to them so much that life becomes overburdened with things to do and commitments to keep. Sometimes I focus so much on keeping “red roses are red, green leaves are green” that I forget about all of the other colors in life. I confine myself to coloring my life, careers and experiences within the lines.

But life is messy. There really are no defined lines and I’ve come to realize that I like the way the gkids and I do art. No real rules. “Red” roses can be purple or green or yellow or marbled. My palette can be simple colors or a riotous mix of randomly blended colors. My canvas can be something tangible and almost permanent like paper or just be something temporary like my hands. And though I travel through this life and pretend there is a permanence to what I do most of it is just temporary. The only “permanent” things I will leave behind are the memories and impact of my life on those around me.

What if the days of my life were lived more like the way I do art with the gkids? To embrace the moment, the temporary, the messiness of being gifted with life…maybe not all the time (after all seeking control is hard work) but enough to remind me of the good I see, the freedom I feel, the excitement and joy of letting go if only for a moment. Something to ponder? Or not.

Next painting adventure will be in the spring when the weather warms up, swimsuits can be put on, and finger paints can be applied to driveways, sidewalks, trees, rocks and yes, if only for a moment, to ourselves. We are a living canvas after all and finger paints do wash off….eventually.

Painting Notes: String art is simple and appears as if the drawing was created by magic. Thin strings work best but experiment with it a bit. Add one or more strings with various colors at the same (or different) time to get a unique drawing.

I use “collage” apps on my phone and computer to capture the essence of the time I spend with the gkids. It’s a simple way to preserve the moment, remind us of the fun and share with others.

Coloring with the lines of life...an adventure to do things differently by experimenting with paint.