by Cathy Baker

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all
means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” -Vincent van Gogh

Granted, Vincent probably didn’t have paint-by-number kits in mind when he said this, but I sure did.

The last time I matched colors with a number I wore pigtails and Gilbert O’ Sullivan’s Alone Again (Naturally) was topping the Billboard chart. So when I spotted the tiny print below this vintage travel trailer saying it was available in a paint-by-number kit the ten year-old within wanted to break out a wax whistle in celebration. 

And then I hesitated. My “voice within,” as van Gogh put it, wasn’t saying I couldn’t paint (it’s a paint-by-number for goodness sakes!) but rather, I shouldn’t. My adult self raised every excuse it could muster as to why I had no business buying such a thing—but the ten year-old won this battle. 

So what’s the point in all of this? Play time is a good thing. It boosts creativity. It helps us be more productive. It’s not a waste of time, like I once thought. 

You can’t teach creativity; all you can do is let it blossom, and it blossoms in play. -Peter Gray

If you’re not into paint-by-number kits, consider these ways to silence your own cannot’s: 

  • Doodle
  • Sing
  • Knit
  • Learn how to play a musical instrument
  • Write songs
  • Get crafty (the glue-based kind, of course)
  • Explore your city
  • Break out the Play-doh! 

Your turn! (Because we share on this playground): What’s your favorite form of play?