This post is a continuation of a little series which may become part of a book about Amelia’s trip to the moon and back. If you are not a regular reader, you may want to read the most recent post about Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp first. It will help explain the ending to this post.
Emily had been enjoying her chalks and pastels for long enough to cover the front of my refrigerator with artwork. It seemed like a perfect day to try something new.
“Would you like this little travel-size watercolor set?” I asked.
“What does it do?”
“Well, I thought you might like to try making some pictures with it, paintings really.”
“Are paintings better than drawings?”
“That is a question people still haven’t figured out yet. But if you ask me, a painting is a lot like a drawing except it is wet at first. But some drawings, like ink drawings, start out wet too. The best thing about painting is you can make a big colorful shape all at once.”
“Don’t I have to travel to use it? I don’t think I can fly and carry that all at the same time even though it is small.”
“It’s only called that name because when artists travel away from home sometimes they like to take a little set of paints and a brush with them. But they can use it at home too.”
“Those colors are pretty and brighter than chalk. Do I pick them up like chalk?”
“They have pigment in them like the chalk, and a very weak kind of glue. You add some water with the paintbrush to loosen up the pigment and glue, and then you have paint.”
Emily couldn’t quite imagine how this would all work. She looked as if she was going to tell me she’d rather just stay with her chalk drawings, but I wanted her to at least try.
“By the way, Emily, did you know that many years ago some artists started using the clear part inside eggs as a stronger kind of glue when they mixed their paint colors. The clear part of the egg made the paint last a really long time and kept the colors extra beautiful.”
“You are serious about that?”
“Absolutely serious. It’s called egg tempera, and some artists still use it. The paintings are small because they take so much time to make, but they are worth it because they are small and as beautiful as jewels, just like you.”
Emily had exhausted all of the questions she could come up with, and so there was nothing left to do except make a decision. Chickens can be hesitant about trying new things, even new food.
“I want to see how this paint works. I will give it a try.”
“I’m so glad.”
“But I’m not giving up any eggs for this.”
“And I wouldn’t ask you to either. You will just need a dish of water. It wouldn’t be good to use everyone’s drinking dish. Nobody wants funny-colored water to drink.”
I was eager to see how her watercolor painting would turn out. The travel-sized box had a shorter paintbrush that fit nicely in her beak. I showed her how to use it to get water and turn the cakes of pigment into paint. In no time, she was ready to start.
From the very beginning, Emily developed her own painting style. She enjoyed being able to use her whole body, especially her wings, when she painted.
Flying and painting worked well together for her. She would load her brush with paint and then touch straight down to make round yellow shapes for flower centers. She would touch at an angle to make white oblong shapes for flower petals. She would touch down then drag and lift up to make green shapes with two pointed ends for flower leaves.
None of her shapes were exactly the same which made every flower unique, just as in nature. A few times drops of paint went where they weren’t supposed to go, but she was able to turn the drips into more flowers. All in all, her first watercolor painting was quite a success.
When she was finished she put down her brush and looked up at me. She was delighted to see the approval on my face.
“Nicely done,” I said. “And I know what you are going to say next.” It was why she had asked if painting was better than drawing.
“I want to paint Amelia.”
“Then we will work on that tomorrow. You will need even bigger shapes than what you made today. Let me show you, and then you can imagine how you will do it for tomorrow’s lesson.”
I opened the paint box all of the way so that the lid laid flat. Emily had been so eager to start, she hadn’t noticed this. She liked how the two sections there could be used to make a larger amount of paint.
Emily watched carefully as I mixed a special color and outlined a large round shape with watercolor and then filled it in with more paint.
Then once that was dry, I mixed another special color and added more smaller round shapes on top of the larger round shape.
“That is the moon! That is where Amelia is going!”
“So is painting like drawing?”
“What do you mean, Emily?”
“Does it also let you do things you would never be able to do any other way?”
“We will find out tomorrow, won’t we?”
“Yes. Yes, we will.”
My Life With Gracie taught me you never know what you can do until you try.
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