Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Teachers Set Me Up for Failure: Kid Paints and Other Stuff

I am currently volunteer-teaching (ah, the great money-making options for artists) an art class for 9 year-olds where we are making Audubon-style bird watercolors. Things seem to be going well--let's just say that the Peeps are starting to look more and more anatomically correct--and we are now entering the coloring phase of the drawings where a we've come across a little snag. Unfortunately, it was not until now that I realized that watercolor sets for kids are like a cruel joke. Who came up with these colors?? I understand that kids are attracted to bright, primary colors, but how are you supposed to paint even kind of realistically with a basic set as a kid? Nothing in the world comes in these colors except for Grimace and Smurfs. And lets not start on the futility of the white watercolor... just to highlight the fact that you screwed up and can't fix it.

Unfortunate experience in hand, I am now proposing a new kids watercolor line up: venetian red, yellow ocher, naples yellow, alizarin crimson, ultramarine, cerulean, burnt umber, and cobalt violet. It might be harder to make fuchsia, but at least you (and/or your students) could botch your way through almost anything. I maintain that it would be better than the box pictured above.

Let me end this rant with a little story to tear at your heart strings: earlier this week, I watched a child get teary eyed realizing that she had to paint a song sparrow (made up of 6 or 7 different shades of pale but saturated brown) and there was no brown in her watercolor box. Yeah, I suppose that I could have sat there for twenty minutes to figure out all the nuances of the crummy little colors to come up with close to the necessary hues, but I am not getting paid to volunteer all day (insert diabolical laughter fading into crying jags).  All I am saying is, can't we do better? Think of the children.....(music swelling)

1 comment:

  1. you should hit up crayola, that's a good idea