It was a warm afternoon when I was about eight years old. I had just joined ‘upper primary’ so I had graduated from using coloured pencils and crayons in Art and Craft class and I had my first set of water colours that weren’t mixed in a bottle top from powder and water.
My new paints were in tubes and my homework was to paint with a paintbrush, not 'baby stuff' like making a print with a leaf or spray painting with a toothbrush. I was excited.
My first painting assignment was a landscape. There were brown hills in the background, green grass in the foreground, a river that flowed from between the hills and a blue sky. There was also a yellow sun peeping from behind tiny clouds. I had resisted the urge to draw a smiley face on the sun and instead drew yellow streaks around it. My drawing had to look as grown up as I felt. Perfect.
Well, almost. There was one little problem. I couldn’t use white paint to draw white clouds on white paper. With coloured pencils, it had been much easier. All I needed to do was draw a cloud with a pencil and leave the middle plain but with paints, it was a bit tricky.
My mum happened to walk by at that moment and she must have noticed my puzzled look. When I told her about my dilemma, she showed me a few tricks. Mixing white with a little black created grey. Grey clouds were actually more visible on white paper. She also taught me how to draw a V with a line under it to make it look like a bird that was flying away.
My mother taught me a lot of things and she still does. Even though I remember what she taught me, I can’t remember the actual lesson. For some reason, this particular lesson has stuck in my memory.