Friday, August 04, 2017

The rolling stones

Two months ago, a friend added me to a very cool pebble-painting group whose main objective is to get kids away from electronics, and out and about in nature. It's become a big craze in Australia, New Zealand and some parts of the US, and something that tech-crazy kids of Singapore desperately need. It's like the analog version of Pokemon Go.

The rules are simple -- you paint pebbles and hide them around parks and playgrounds for other kids to find. What you find, you re-hide in another location. You post photos of what you paint, hide and find, and your personal hashtags at the back of the pebbles can help you trace where your artwork has travelled. Singapore may be a tiny island, but it sure is heartening to find in the west coast a pebble painted by a kid living in the east coast.

Xena and I already do a lot of art and craft and outdoorsy stuff, so this fitted right into our interests. However, I had no clue how obsessed she (and me; mainly me actually) would get.

Here are my top reasons for loving, loving, loving this new hobby:

1. It promotes creativity and resourcefulness. 
You can paint absolutely anything on the pebbles using any media you like. In the beginning, we had no suitable art supplies —just two bags of pebbles we had bought. Xena's water colours and finger paints turned out to be no good for painting on the surface of the pebbles. While I checked around to see what kind of paints and markers would be the best, we had to make do with whatever was at hand. So we used nail polish for colours, a correction pen for white and markers for outlines. Since I was really into nail art at one point, I do have some very funky colours and nail art tools. And I have to say they served us very well. And because the 'canvas' is so small, you don't need any real artistic skills. Anything you paint on a pebble will end up looking cute.

This entire batch was painted using nothing but nail polish and nail art tools.

At this point, I'm doing most of the painting, though Xena helps me do the base coats and paints some of the simpler designs after I do the outlines. 

Most of this is Xena's handiwork, with a little help from me.

2. It gets kids out and about. 
Xena and I often go for long walks to faraway parks and playgrounds. By the time we are done, she's often very tired and if we haven't taken her scooter along, I encounter some "carry me" whines. (Now, she may be super-light, but I ain't carrying a 6-year-old home.) However, since we started on this, I don't hear any complaints at all. Scooter or no scooter, she cheerfully ventures near and far in search of painted pebbles. And she goes to great lengths to find them.

We were pebble-hiding near the cable ski lagoon at the beach with a friend, when she borrowed his toy binoculars and said, "Mama, I'm looking hard for pebbles!"

3. It teaches kids to share. 
It's simple: paint --> hide and find -> re-hide. You can't hold on to the pebbles you find, no matter how pretty they are or how much you like them. You can keep them to admire for a day or two, but you gotta release them eventually for others to feel just as happy as you did when you found them. Xena gets this, and I sure am glad that she's able to let go of stuff this easily.

4. It's a cycle. 
If I had a penny for every piece of artwork that Xena handed to me that I actually kept, boy oh boy. Every term, her preschool also sends me every single drawing of hers, and some of them are, well, I have no idea what they are. On an average, I keep about one in twenty. The rest dutifully make their way to the recycle bin, mostly when she's asleep. It's true; kids are inherent hoarders. They get attached to the most random things -- leaves, twigs, candy wrappers, ribbons, pieces of blu tack (I kid you not), etc. What they'd want to do with these things is anybody's guess, but they do love them dearly. So you can only imagine how attached kids can get to a cute pebble with a cute mascot painted on it. Now imagine if you kept every pebble you painted and every pebble you found. That's a lot of stuff to keep in the house, and goes totally against our general KonMari philosophy. So I'm actually happy that the pebble artwork gets renewed and recycled without anyone having to throw anything away.

5. It teaches kids how to deal with disappointments.
This is my absolute favourite. This generation of kids rarely have to deal with failure and disappointment in their childhood. (That's why 'participation prizes' bug me. Why are we rewarding kids for just turning up?) My worry is that when they grow into (rather entitled) adults, they will not be able to cope with all the curveballs life is gonna throw at them. Rock-hunting is great for this reason -- you might spend an hour combing through a park and find ZERO pebbles and that's okay. And of course, there is always the heartbreaking possibility of your beautifully painted pebble being discovered by someone who doesn't know what it is; someone who just picks it up and keeps it, or worse, throws it into the bin. Oh, well.

6. It's 'reboot' time for me.
Viv has been insanely busy with cricket so our weeknight Netflix sessions start only around 10 pm after he gets back from training. I end up with some free time after putting Xena to bed, so I just sit down and paint the stuff that *I* want to paint, without getting distracted with phrases like "Mama, this fish looks angry. We need to change its mouth!" or "Mama, please draw a JigglyWigglypie [aka random cartoon character she learnt about from her classmates that I have no clue about and have to google to draw]." This 'me time' is really calming. I can literally tuck away all my other thoughts and just focus on the pebble I'm painting. And now I have armed myself with acrylic paints and better markers, so the pebbles are looking better too.

Here are some of our latest creations. Will update as we paint more!







4 comments:

Arun said...

Any notable finds?

How about fairy gardens?

pepperedthoughts said...

Those pebbles are simply gorgeous. So stunning. I think I'd love to keep a few myself.. :)

And if you've used nail polish to paint all of them, I must say I am also amazed by your nail polish collection. Just how many do you have?

Arun said...

The last two are awesome!

Prathima said...

Every pebble is beautiful! Especially the last one.

Agree that this generation of kids is growing up to feel entitled. They don't have to wait to get anything and too many things are available too easily to them. They need to know to deal with failures and disappointments.