paint!Sarah sits down at the table. In front of her is her canvas, wide and white and clean. She does not know yet what she will create, but she knows instinctively that it will be beautiful.

Her mother says something to her. She cannot listen now; her muse is upon her. She must paint.

She dips her brush daintily into the paint, which drips with heavy drops of blue. Sarah loves the color blue. Her mother’s eyes are blue, and so is the sky. She pulls the brush across the top of the paper. “This is the sky,” she announces to the room, as if introducing a friend. Her mother murmurs appreciatively.

Sarah knows there should be much more sky. She dips her brush into the blue and repeatedly smears it across the page until it is practically filled with sky. She sits back and looks at the painting critically. Where is the sun? You can’t have a sky without a sun.

Thoughtfully, she dips her brush into the yellow and makes a careful circle on the page. But even though the color on the brush is yellow, when she puts it on the page, it somehow turns a funny green. Sarah frowns and rubs more yellow onto the page with her brush. That makes it better, but it’s still got some green around the edges. Sarah dips her finger into the orange paint and covers the green up.

The feel of the paint on her fingertips is wonderful, and she marvels at how gooey and slippery it is. She rubs it between her thumb and forefinger. She touches it to the tip of her tongue to see if it tastes as good as it feels.

Yuck! She spits the paint out. “Oh, for goodness sake, Sarah,” her mother admonishes. Sarah gives her mother a sidelong glance and continues her work.

There must be birds in the sky, she decides, and she picks up her brush once again to produce lovely purple birds. But now, the brush is not good enough to apply the paint anymore. Fingers are much, much easier to work with. She abandons the brush and begins rapidly smoothing paint across the page, humming while she works. There is the head of the bird, she notes to herself. And there are the wings. She can tell the bird needs more colors, so she puts red on its wings, green on its beak, and yellow on its eyes.

But there still needs to be more color! The paints bleed into one another as Sarah moves her hands across the page. Now the painting has a life of its own, and she is flying in the sky with the bird, talking to it about what she did in school today. Its purple and red wings beat the air with calm and purpose, and there is laughter behind its yellow eyes. After they are done seeing all that they could see, they land softly on the ground, where the bird bows majestically. “Thank you for the company,” it tells her.

She bows to the bird and sighs, because she knows this means her painting is finished.

She picks up the page, still wet with globs of paint, and presents it to her mother. “I made this for you, Mommy,” she says.

Her mother smiles and coos over the painting. “This one will have to live on the refrigerator for a long time, I think,” says Sarah’s mother. Sarah beams with pride.

“Can I do it, Mommy? Please?”

Sarah’s mother hesitates. “Yes,” she says slowly. “But first we need to wash your hands. And your face. And, er, change your clothes.”

Later that evening, as Sarah adds her work of art to the gallery on the refrigerator, she thinks of her adventure in the sky, smiling. The purple bird smiles back at her and winks.


For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kelsey challenged me with “Wherever you are, put everything down, close your eyes, and spin around twice. When you open your eyes, the first thing you see you must write about in the perspective of a toddler or small child. (Hint: How tall is a toddler?)” [I laid my eyes on a paint-stained cloth], and I challenged evenstarwen with “Write a story with a character that frequently uses malapropisms.”

Colors of the World
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  • Wonderful! This is so expressive and descriptive. I could see the painting coming to life. Excellent job!

  • I love how you begin with giving the reader the impression that Sarah is a serious artist, older, established but as it goes you see she is still young and innocent. The joys of childhood are expressed so perfectly with this experiment with paint 🙂

  • I think you captured the joy of a toddler’s joyful imagination beautifully. Wonderful imagery.