I was never much good at painting when I was younger. I can always describe the idea of what I wanted to create but couldn’t make the pen, pencil, brush, charcoal etc do what I wanted it to do. In my minds eye at least, it was the next Mona Lisa. In reality it was a colourful but quite unidentifiable mess.
My parents, after years of putting up with papers of various states of splodge and mess, decided that the way forward was to create some guidelines around how to paint and got me a painting by numbers kit for my birthday. In case you’re not aware, painting by numbers comprises of a line drawing of an image (mine were always footballers) with a colour code to make sure that you paint the right colour into the right space.
Hours of toil later on numerous wet Sundays and I produced recognisable images that were completed as per the instructions:
- inside the lines
- right colour right space
- Followed the order of colours.
Success! Realistic pictures that were more than good enough to be presented in a 70s suburban living room. I remember the pride my parents had showing a distant uncle the pictures I’d created. Well done. Didn’t I do well. They didn’t feel like my pictures though.
This is where Jane Hart’s work on scaffolding is interesting me so much. Jane is entirely correct in her assumption that LD wants to maintain control – only this week someone asked me about our model and how we could control the outputs that came from it. It seems the need/desire to control and to measure and count seem to be the drivers to so much that LD want to do.
I think we need to take care with scaffolding though; if it’s too constrained, specific and structured you’re in the same realm as a painting by numbers picture. The problem with painting by numbers is you never meet the outcome of being able to paint; you meet the output of producing pictures.
- Offer painting by numbers?
- Let people paint outside the lines?
- Limit people’s choice of colours?
- Only use specific templates?
- Let people use NO templates?
Comments, very welcome. If you want to submit a response through the medium of paint, please be aware we can’t return your pictures.