This girl is very detail oriented, and very, very meticulous. She is leaning in, watching every brush stroke. She is using paint sparingly, almost too sparingly for an elephant, and before I know it she's done with the grey on all three! Smooth surface, no globs, covered everything adequately...I'm impressed! And she's not ready to quit! So I pull a few colors to use for linens on the riders, let her choose which ones she likes (a different one for each rider...boring old me would have used the same on all of them but not her!), pick a finer brush...and hold my breath. Son of a gun if she didn't very carefully dress each rider with her brush, with only a spot or two on the elephant! But she still doesn't want to quit, and I'm starting to think of how I'm going to knock one heck of a dent in my lead pile in the basement! I could keep her busy for weeks...months even!
The flesh is going to be a real test. You know Carthaginian elephant drivers...they have a linen cloth and not much else, but still the legs are wrapped around the elephant so there is a real risk of flesh getting all over the place, but I give her an even finer brush, open the flesh paint, and give her some minimal directions. This one goes a little slower, because as I said she is a very meticulous kid, but while I'm still carefully going through the rows of pikemen and musketeers she has brought the three riders to life!
Finishing touches...I showed her the tusks on the elephants, how small they are, and asked her if she thought she could paint them. Didn't scare her off at all...this time I watched her as she carefully and gently put tusks on the great beasts.
Now, throughout this process I was of the idea that once she got the main part of the painting done, I would put what to me would be the final mark of artistry on the pieces...the large cloths draped over the elephants' backs. However, before I could bring the painting time to an end she cut me off at the pass..."Daddy, do I get to paint the blankets any way I want to?" I paused, my mind racing to come up with how I could gently tell her that the blankets needed to look just right, have some carefully drawn Carthaginian symbols on them, weather them to look war-torn and sand/wind-blown...in other words, be done by Daddy. I couldn't do it...I knew it would really hurt her feelings if I stole this last piece of artistic license from her. I made what I think was the best decision I have made in a while...I told her to paint them however she thought they should look.
Here are my newest war elephants to join my Carthaginian army...I wouldn't change a thing!
She even painted and flocked the bases...all I did was glue, prime, and seal them when they were done!
I recently read a book called "52 Things Kids Need From a Dad." I highly recommend it; it will reinforce what you're already doing, and probably teach you a few new things.