As Alan unpacked his paints and brushes, I’m sure the tension emanating from my mum was palpable, considering he was doing so right next to her brand-new sofa. Naturally, she was wondering how much mess a 3-year-old having their first painting lesson could truly make. The profound thinkers amongst us would probably say that the answer to that question was a lot, but Alan assured her that she had nothing to worry about.
I was that 3-year-old, and back in the early 2000s, Alan was bestowed with the task of teaching me how to paint. Even though this day was a long time ago, I remember it with total clarity which certainly attests to how much fun I had, being a child who loved her arts and crafts. Alan got out some paper and showed me different brush strokes and various ways in which I could mix paint to get different colours, all in a way which was understandable to me. He then asked me what I would like to paint. I pondered this for a while, as if it was a deep philosophical question, and finally revealed what would be my first masterpiece: a rainbow.
He then got out a canvas – I knew at this point that this painting lesson was a million times more exciting than anything I could do at nursery. I loved the lesson because instead of Alan dictating to me how to paint a rainbow, he allowed me to go wherever my developing artistic tendencies took me. Soon the rainbow was joined by a tree, and I started to fill in a deep blue sky. Being free to paint what I wanted, I asked Alan questions. He showed me how I could press the paint brush on the canvas in a certain way to put leaves on the tree, and helped me to mix the perfect shade of blue for my sky. It wasn’t all totally serious – Alan is very good at getting down with the kids, so to speak, and he was fun to talk to and made me laugh a lot. My mum talks about hearing me giggling throughout the lesson. She was also quite pleased to discover that her new sofa had been left unharmed.
A painting lesson is not something that a lot of 3-year-olds get to experience, but I wish that more did. The lesson inspired a love of art and creating, and the little skills that Alan showed me that afternoon stayed with me with every painting I did, from nursery all the way up to my school years and beyond. He told me recently that he’s started giving drawing lessons to a 5-year-old from the local area. I’m thrilled that Alan is teaching children still, and I hope the next generation love his art lessons as much as I did.
Guest writer Catriona McVey.