NIGHT 57 – THE STORY OF KING UMAR ‘IBN AL-NUMAN AND HIS FAMILY

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THE MAGIC PAINTBRUSH

An old Chinese legend tells of a poor little boy who loves to paint. He can’t afford a paintbrush, so he draws instead. Then one day, he gets given a paintbrush by a magical old man – and whatever the boy paints turns out to be real. He helps his fellow poor people by painting things they need and eventually it reaches the Emperor’s ears. However, the Emperor is greedy and wants only gold, and forces the little boy to paint things for him against his will.  When the Emperor asks for a ship on the sea and some waves to go sailing, the clever little boy keeps on painting waves until they drown the ship, and then he simply walks away with his magic paintbrush tucked under his arm.

I read the story of the Magic Paintbrush to my son while he enjoyed an afternoon of free painting with my Water Brush. It’s such a pleasure to watch children paint – it’s a reminder of the truism that ‘painting is one of the last freedoms’ and nobody is more free than a child left to their own devices during cherished, unbroken and unstructured play time.  It’s one of the rare privileges of childhood and indeed it’s what made me into the artist I am today.

I believe children should have a wide variety of art materials – both children’s art materials and real, beautiful tools wherever possible. The mix allows them to go wild with materials while also learning respect for proper tools. Also, my raw wood handles encourage the tripod grip.

Let your kids play freely and allow them the space to be bored.  Painting with kids encourages you to go with the flow too. There is no need to be prescriptive and there are no expectations – if they wants to dance with the brush on the page, let them. If they are frustrated that they can’t draw a dinosaur and want you to do it, by all means step in. Many books and early years theories will tell you the opposite extremes of either letting the child do whatever they like and you keep your hands off (which can sometimes lead to frustration as they cannot fully express themselves without honed fine motor skills) or the adult taking over the act completely (where creativity is thwarted).

As an artist I say it doesn’t matter. Just keep the flow going and what will be, will be. There will be other artworks, other times. Think long-term. This balance ensures that painting – or whatever activity you’re doing, for that matter, with a child – stays playful. Sometimes it’s a piece made all by themselves, sometimes they will want the adult to demonstrate, sometimes it’s a shared piece, sometimes they’ll want their hands to be guided, sometimes you keep the work, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes they won’t want to paint at all. Sometimes the paint disappears all by itself, as if painted by the Magic Paintbrush…

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This was from my Brushes blog at https://www.theperfectbrush.co.uk/single-post/2019/05/27/THE-MAGIC-PAINTBRUSH – you can also purchase the Water Brush there too. I loved Ladybird books as a kid and also this story – such a pleasure to share it with my child now as well ~

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NIGHT 55 – THE STORY OF KING UMAR ‘IBN AL-NUMAN AND HIS FAMILY

DOME DETAILS

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This week’s Dome Poem:

What’s in the dome? A Dr. Who-style transporter? An empty wardrobe? A changing room? Nothing?

I saw three ships

We’re done! Looking up at Kublai

Yours truly

Strange man

My gorgeous little golden ship reference – once worn on a hat (those days when I used to dress up for events!)

Part of the circular surroundings of the Willow Pattern/Blue Willow

I add Greek yoghurt to everything. This is where all the pots go

Sunlight on the sunlit part of the dome

Green details ~

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NIGHT 54 – THE STORY OF KING UMAR ‘IBN AL-NUMAN AND HIS FAMILY

Kublai Khan, us, a magic carpet and the dome continues

We’re almost done.

I love the cold, pale blue of this sea in the sunlight and my ‘abject monks’ contemplating their stone.

A shared fascination with Kublai Khan and Genghis Khan is how we met.

Chinese emperors traditionally wore yellow, as yellow could only be worn by the emperor.

Kublai Khan (interesting beard, like a double goatee).

Painting a magic floating carpet.

The original rug.

Detail from the cover, I like the diagonal energy of this rug.

Becoming more and more complete ~

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NIGHT 53 – THE STORY OF KING UMAR ‘IBN AL-NUMAN AND HIS FAMILY

A City of Blocks, the Willow Pattern and we’re taking shape in the dome.

The City of Blocks.

Block City – I needed to see the 3D form a city would take for perspective reasons so I used my child’s blocks!

The Willow Pattern takes shape.

The Willow Pattern – Chinese but not Chinese. Famously and erroneously thought of as Chinese in origin, it was actually dreamt up by 18th century English ceramic artists to look quintessentially Chinese, so it’s a form of Chinoiserie. Known in the US as Blue Willow, they also conjured up a story in order to make it more romantic: two lovers (the daughter of a rich man and a poor young accountant) are prevented from being together by her father who wants her to marry a Duke on the day the blossom fell from the willow tree. The Duke gives the lady a gift of jewels and one evening she and the poor young man escape over the bridge with the jewels, the Duke running after them. They make it to an island where they live in bliss until the Duke finds them and kills them both, whereupon they turn into two doves that are united in death at last. This story was so enduring that it was even turned into operas, movies and plays.

Two birds flying high,
A Chinese vessel, sailing by.
A bridge with three men, sometimes four,
A willow tree, hanging o’er.
A Chinese temple, there it stands,
Built upon the river sands.
An apple tree, with apples on,
A crooked fence to end my song.

Sunlight on the dome.

Old photo of me escaping from a mysterious onion-domed wardrobe (location unknown – forgotten!).

The mysterious onion-domed wardrobe made its way into the painting in front of the ice caves (part of the Kubla Khan painting ‘those caves of ice’). Funny how parts of your life resurface into your work unexpectedly.

Floating islands in progress – standard motif of mine.

An airport and a sky cloud dragon blowing three circles (‘Weave a circle round him thrice’).

Strange fellow, strange pose ~

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