My Grandpa’s Paint

Jacklyn - Torrance, California
Entered on March 8, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in paint. Throughout the course of human existence, paint created, concealed, expressed, and mimicked. Paint shares tragedy, beauty, pain, history, respect, memory, and stories with civilizations, generations, and cultures. From graffiti in New York to the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt. Paint cannot be erased or taken away – mistakes contribute to overall success. I learned that light mistakes are covered, dark mistakes are camouflaged, but both stay just below the finished surface. Paint creates an image, exact or abstract, interpreted properly only by the artist and left open for critiques’ misconceptions.

My Grandpa used oil paint on canvas, while I use watercolor on paper. His paintings involve texture, complexity, richness, and depth. My paintings flow, merge, and blend into an image. The paintings framed in my room have strong lines and are older than I am. The paintings taped to his walls have crooked, imprecise lines and were painted with his old brushes. I have never painted with oil on canvas, yet his custom briefcase filled with paint and brushes sits in my room under my grandma’s sewing machine. The charcoal and gum erasers I use have been smoothed and molded by his fingers; his sketchbooks are colored with my crayons. Now whenever I need rest, I walk to Papa’s house with his briefcase and carpenter pencils to learn how to shade a distant tree or proportionally sketch our favorite scenes. He discovered that light colors only show when they are beneath darker layers and light mistakes are hidden by the dark, I have found different ways to blend my mistakes into a fluid screen. My grandpa fixes mistakes by layering, I fix mine by blending. I learn from Papa’s life and find his view on the world looking into his paintings.

In The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury creates a man painted with tattoos that move and interact to form life. This Illustrated Man bears stories of people on his skin. Mars, lions, rockets, and the future are some of the figures painted on his body that link to make up the collection. On his back is an “empty space…of jumbled colors and shapes” where new stories begin. My paintings start in the same way, as a vague sketch of the significant lines and shapes to come. “They were windows looking in on a fiery reality. Here gathered on one wall, were all the finest scenes in the universe, the man was a walking treasure gallery…This was the accomplishment of a living genius, vibrant, clear, and beautiful.” As the pictures come together the Illustrated Man records the history of mankind; just as paintings on cave walls represent the history of early Homo Sapiens. The art on his body leaves an observer in disbelief, and the artist becomes a mastermind. Geniuses of art are copied and savored by people of years to come passing the individual’s view of humanity through generations.

Paint is an essential component of my existence. I paint with all types of goals and ideas constantly changing during my life. Paint marked my entrance to adolescence, showing my readiness to communicate my new found thoughts. It will someday soon mark my movement into maturity. When I know more about the world, chose my own style, respect the art of others, and appreciate the tools I use, I will be ready to use the depth and contrast of my grandpa’s paint.