I’ve never made plans to paint with Paolo, but my watercolor pad would tell another tale were one to flip through its pages soaked in pools of muddied colored portraits, coke cans, and hearts hand crafted one day at a time by the most expressive 10 year old I’ve had the pleasure of passing time with.
Last night I wandered up the festively lit walkway towards Guingette de la Plage, scanning the concert’s audience for a spare seat for one and was met with tiny beckoning hands and bulging eyes framed by even smaller smart black glasses.
Paolo looked a proper gentleman with hair styled and gelled so well I couldn’t help but comment, to which his father’s girlfriend, Anna, the most regular of our yoga class attendees with a purple stripe in her own short hair, confesses she provided the product when he asked. Every strand was tucked into its perfect place, accentuating the naturally white patch running the upper length of his right ear “since I was a baby?” he questions his perfect English grammar. He has the etiquette of an adult and the visage of a child when his face is resting and his front teeth buck out above his lower lip. He wears a watch to keep track of time to which he’s gifted aplenty, and has enough to spare that the timepiece rests unattended on his wrist.
With no adjacent spaces, Paolo and I shifted two chairs up to the ping pong table in back, and I pulled out our two pads, shared paints and brushes, and unzipped the small marker bag collecting stains from pens uncapped in transit.
Oliver, a new acquaintance and local artist with pieces exhibited beyond my monthly salary, sits alongside us and tugs my sketchbook across the ping pong table, setting my phone light in a Stella glass pointed towards the mixing tray, and asks what Paolo wants a painting of.
“A soccer player,” he enchants as jovially as if he had been anticipating the question.
Oliver laughs, but obliges and dips into the blue, tracing the image of a mannequin separated geometrically into anatomical exactness. The player is running towards us cocking his left leg back to dribble forward. Paolo watches, gaping over our shoulders and whispering repetitively “c’est fou,” and when Oliver scribbles a dedication in the bottom right corner and rips it from the pad’s binding, motioning for him to take it, Paolo looks at me wide eyed asking if it’s for him. “Yes, of course!”
Pablo’s drool could have saturated the brush independent of the water jostling inside its plastic neck, but he spills the liquid out anyway, inspired and eager to make his own painting. Watching him mimic the professionally trained movements in his own artistic interpretations, I awed at his lack of inhibition and made a promise to myself to always learn from others with Paolo’s same childlike sense of wonder.