An expression of Art at Melrose Children’s Home

On Good Friday 29th March afternoon, an Art event organized by Charmaine was held at Melrose Children’s Home. The theme was painting by numbers. A total of 15 kids participated. There were some new faces in the group.

When I arrived, John the boy who got Micky’s hair tangled in this portable fan at the zoo (If you have read the previous article), was sitting in a corner, evidently in a foul mood. I greeted him warmly but he did not flinch. As I approached him, I noticed his painting was a huge blob of black covering some yellow paint. The more he painted, the darker his drawing became. If Art is a form of therapy, it is certainly not working.

I read from somewhere that the use of colours can indicate a persons state of mind. From his drawing you do not need to be a psychotherapist to know something is not right! John, has now become my object of concern.


I gently asked John what is bothering him but he remained unperturbed to my coaxing. After much cajoling , I gave up! I decided to turn a blind eye and refused to give him the audience to his ‘emo’ display but to divert his attention on my needs instead. I told him that I wanted to win the painting contest and I will share the prize, he has to help me as time was running out. I told him to spy on other kids at they were doing so we can be different and outstanding. I suggested that we need not paint by the numbers and we could interpret according to what we see fit. I guess my enthusiasm rubbed off and he grudgingly took the paint brush and painted the panda …. Pink ! You can see the stark difference between the final painting and the dark gloomy version.

R pandaJohn moody painting










Other volunteers were also helping their little charges. Some kids were very focused on their task, the older one; meticulous and the little ones had a freer rein on the canvas , with total disregard painting by colour codes. 4 year old Gerald was one such artist, carefree and uninhibited. We joked that his painting could fetch $1mil and we should put in Charmaine’s gallery on consignment! In my opinion, art should be based on self expression and unreserved.

R gerald $1m painting

The kids were also treated to McDonalds during tea time. Every kid had a happy meal toy. Everyone was happy.

However, some of the kid’s happiness were short lived. When the best artists where announced by our resident artist- Joshua, some kids felt that it was unfair as the volunteers had helped the winners paint. The orphanage coordinator expressed concern about the children’s feelings . I noticed that the discontented children are older between 11-12 years old. The younger children were not bothered, let alone jealous. It is not surprising, as these kids are in pre-puberty, they are no longer as innocent and naïve as they have become more mature and sensitive. Moreover, these kids lack parental love, it is not surprising that they will crave affirmation in whatever form available! I explained to the coordinator that it is not possible to make everyone happy. Chairmaine added that the contest is to spur the kids to try their best. I added that even if we do not acknowledge exceptional qualities in the child at the home, in the public school the child attends, there will bound to be comparison made. We cannot be shielding them indefinitely. This is a form of escapism and it is unrealistic and it may do more harm to the child than good. To me, everyone who put in effort is a winner.



I think the next event should still be art related. I did further research on art therapy and it found that art therapy could be beneficial to people suffering from depressive moods through a way of distraction rather than venting. Art therapy has also been used to develop problem resolution and emotional regulation skills in children and can be used to addressed the majority of psychological and emotional difficulties in a safe and respectful way that is akin to play and not dependent on words alone. Very suitable for the kids as some of them are still very young and may not have amassed sufficient vocabulary to express themselves.




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