They painted with brushes and bubbles and string.
They blew paint through a straw and squirted it from plastic bottles. They painted to music and by themselves and with a friend. They painted ornaments and cookies and clay bowls. They painted carefully or with abandon.
But whatever the tool or technique, the children who participated in the Oneonta World of Learning's Paintfest last Saturday painted for fun.
It was amazing to watch, this painting extravaganza. Children in clear plastic smocks pulled their parents from one classroom to the next, where volunteers passed out supplies, helped with techniques and hung finished creations to dry.
The littlest painters squatted or knelt on the floor, completely intent on their work, oblivious to the globs of paint oozing off the corner of a poster, spattered on jeans and smudged on hands.
In the hallway, children waited for a turn to paint at an easel. Outside, they squirted paint at Oneonta Mayor John Nader, dressed for the occasion in a white hooded suit and plastic goggles.
It was a day of painting in its purest form: painting for art and exploration and self-expression and the sheer, kinesthetic joy of splattering color across a blank canvas.
We are a painting culture. We paint our toenails and our faces. We paint to get a fresh start in a new place, and we paint to cover up the stale look of an old place. We paint to express our style and our personality. We paint to redefine ourselves and our space.
We paint because we can. Interior decorating is big business in our do-it-yourself world. Every home-improvement store devotes prime real estate to paint-swatch displays designed to seduce us into redecorating with glossy photos of bright, sun-filled rooms and colors with names like Seafoam and Lilac Whisper.