Due to my predictible lack of organisation and poor time management there were a couple of paintings which I had to finish in a bit of a hurry. I am dissapointed about this because I know that if I had given the paintings more time and care they could have been something to be proud of. I've decided, though, that for this reason I will re-do them over the summer.
It is important that I do the painting justice because the people I am painting are important to me. I may have mentioned before that I have been painting my orphans, from the thousand or more photos that were taken during the six weeks I spent with them.
Tho was a really sweet, gentle and bright kid. He was one of the few who didn't need to be reminded of mine and Austin (my fellow volunteer)'s names and for that I made an extra special effort to remember his. We managed to communicate quite well, despite the obvious language barriers and he'd spend a lot of time with either Austin or I. I think Tho was 10, or there abouts. It was always kind of hard to tell if the kids were being honest about their ages!
It's weird because at home I am used to girls, boys have always been a minority in the kids I babysit, so I know what to do with girls. But at the orphanage the kids I was closest to were all boys! I found that often the girls were quite cliquey and their behaviour unpredicatable; one day they'd be all over me wanting to sit on my lap and play, and other days they wouldn't even look at me! Well, that was the little girls anyway, once they were above the age of about 11 they weren't like that at all and were actually always keen to talk or take me to show me things. They were particuarly keen and close to Austin, they even sent him a letter after we left the orphanage :)
So Tho was one of my special kids. I painted him from a photo where he was sitting on Austin's lap. I had a really hard time painting Austin because he is white and I have become very used to painting Vietnames kids exclusively! Also, I cropped the photo to fit the paper to make Tho the focus, which meant I had just the bottom of Austin's face to paint, that made things really hard for me too. Tho's gaze is really interesting in the photo. It's like he is trying to be posey and a bit tough, but there is this overwhelming sadness that comes through. It kind of breaks my heart to look into his eyes and wonder what he has been through in his little life. Lots of the kids had moments like this where a momentary (or sometimes longer) expression wanted you to know what was going on inside that little head and make it all go away. You know when you "kiss it better" for a little kid? Except you can't do that here.
The next one is of Thinh with an older boy. Again this kid was pretty special. He tried to be tough a lot of the time but I could tell he had a sweet side too. He was always coming to find me and 'talking' to me about English football - that kid knew a whole lot more than I did! He would write names of players on the chalk board if I was having trouble understanding what he was saying. He'd usually write them phonetically which was really cute, and then he'd be really happy when I would understand who he meant and write it properly and help him pronounce it properly. He was also really happy when we got a map of the world out and I'd show him where the cities of the teams he liked were in England. He loved to play football as well, they would get little teams playing out in the yard.
I really struggled to remember his name for some reason, and to be fair he never remembered mine either. So this is why I nicknamed him Football Boy.
He was about 14 (so he said...) and I guess when you are growing up in that environment it helps to be tough. But even he couldn't resist the cuteness that is baby Thinh, Thinh was like the exception to his rule. Football Boy never let me take photos of him. He would always turn away or cover his face (but he happily took photos of everyone else!). I only have one photo that he let me take of him, and that was with Thinh. The photo that this painting is from is also with Thinh, but I snapped this one while he wasn't looking. I was out in the yard with lots of the kids and had pencils and paper so everyone was drawing. Football boy was holding Thinh while they both drew. It was a really content and sweet monent. And I love that the photo wasn't posed. Like with the other painting I wish I had had more time to take the care with this painting that it deserves.