• Victor Mohan

How does the Paint to Empower initiative work?

The principal aim of Reach Lives is to help marginalized communities gain access to healthcare, nourishment and education. In this pursuit, we work with both unstructured communities like slums and villages and structured communities like old age homes and orphanages. Reach Lives works with 20+ orphanages in Bangalore to bring healthcare and nutrition services to underprivileged, deserving children.

Sparsha orphanage in Sanjeevini Nagar is one such orphanage that has partnered with Reach Lives in the past to help their children receive pediatric healthcare services. The orphanage is home to over 50 children from various backgrounds. They are funded primarily by monetary and in-kind donations and rely on the kindness of professionals to aid in the holistic upbringing (including extracurriculars like art) of their children.

The Paint to Empower initiative, in association with The Crimson Canvas was started with the main objective of helping underprivileged children explore their creative side through art workshops. Here's an overview of an early event conducted in partnership with Sparsha orphanage.

The preparation

In a Paint to Empower event, the children are taught how to set up for a painting session. This includes protecting furniture and clothing from paint spills (of which there can be many, they're children....), obtaining the tools and preparing the materials.

Reach Lives - Paint to Empower
Children prepped and ready for the workshop

Children sit in rows leaving adequate space for volunteers to move about. Each child is given a set of tools that he/she maintains and takes ownership of for the duration of the program. We provide these free of cost, by leveraging The Crimson Canvas' purchasing power -- bulk inventory purchases from wholesalers lowers costs. The funding comes solely from profits from each ticket sale for the company's regular art workshops.

Another requirement is volunteers. Children in general can be very energetic and we need volunteers to give every child personal attention. Our volunteers are not artists themselves; however, they are usually attendees of past art workshops. While this is not a requirement, those who have experienced the process of painting in a workshop are more likely to effectively help kids. How can an amateur guide another amateur in the process of painting? Attend one of The Crimson Canvas workshops to find out!

Painting of the day

The painting of the day is an underwater painting of a reef. We choose paintings based on the skill that the children are meant to learn at the day's event. This painting has been created to highlight the different brush strokes (Brush Strokes 101). As children become more familiar with the basic 101 techniques, they move to more advanced topics such as splattering, dabbing and merging.

Individualized tips/tutorials help children cope with more difficult art techniques

We often revert to this painting of the coral reef because it is easy to create but also gives us an opportunity to teach the children on a very fun topic, 'aquatic animals'. Children especially love talking about the various fish that inhabit the seas.

While the group receives instructions from the lead artist, very often the instructions are not clear to the children. Here is where the volunteers form an effective bridge between the instructor and the child. By interpreting the instructor's instructions and explaining in simpler terms for the child, the volunteer is able to keep the group moving at roughly at the same pace. For instance, the light filtering through the sea in the painting can be interpreted as a star to help the child better understand the painting during early stages.

Children are also taught lessons on the topic of the day. For instance, in this painting, children will be taught the English names for different fishes, how fishes breathe underwater and why coral reefs are important for the fishes to live.

Often, finishing touches are added by volunteers and the artist. This is important to ensure uniformity among the paintings and avoid unhealthy competition at this stage.

Photo time

The children are usually extremely happy to show off their finished artwork. At this stage they are also taught how to take proper care of their painting tools so that the same tools can be reused over the next few events.

A proud moment for both the teacher and the students.

The paintings might be retained in the orphanage or may be placed on The Crimson Canvas online store. Also, we host fundraising events at flea markets to sell the paintings in bulk. This is not a core operation of our business. It is just meant to provide supplementary income for the participating orphanages.

Learn more about our Paint to Empower initiative here. Attend The Crimson Canvas paint workshops to help us in this initiative. Volunteer for the initiative here.

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