Give them a brush and they will paint
I set up my large canvas in the shade under the home adjacent to where two of the stick built homes are going up. The owners have been so gracious in letting us use this area for our gear and to escape the sun during breaks and meals. Yesterday the sun was unrelenting. There were no clouds to provide cover.
I propped up the canvas against one of the coolers, spread my paints out on the bench seat, scooped up some water from the sistern and got started.
Within minutes four kids were watching every brush stroke: Ann, Maylaya, Wanchee, and Socheeit. I am completely guessing on the spelling of the two boys names. They were the hardest to learn.
They all helped fill in the dark green background and add the leaves at the end. Some used the brush, others doled out the paint. They all were part of the process until we broke for lunch.
In any process like this, where language is a constant barrier, things get done that might not be perfect because something got lost in translation. Kent and Lee have been at this for a long time...many weeks. Yesterday’s construction challenges combined with the heat, plus the need to reorder some siding inspired a rare trip back to town during the lunch hour. We stopped at the siding store, the adjacent hardware store and Genevieve’s fair trade market to visit with Rick the owner, a Canadian expat originally from Saskatoon. He works with people who have disabilities, but more importantly, extraordinary abilities, to create handmade goods and offer a viable way for them to make a living from their creation and sale. They playfully refer to his as “Yoda” - he knows the ins and outs of Cambodian culture and the community of Siem Reap.
I started in on the elephant, or dumroy in Khmer, with Ann by my side helping. She was doing double duty, also helping the guys doing the concrete work. She was operating the switch that controlled the flow of water. It took me awhile to figure out why she kept jumping up to leave.
My challenge with this painting was portioning out my use of certain key colours. I found myself running low of dark green, red and my precious Titanium White. With a canvas that suck up paint like there is no tomorrow, I was really worried that covering the large surface area was going to be tough.
I got most of the painting done by day’s end - finishing touches will happen today. I will also figure out how to make best use of the third canvas that Lee had found for me.
Our time in Southeast Asia is rapidly coming to a close. It is now Friday. Today will be a huge construction day as four different homes will need to be fully completed. Tomorrow the monks will do their magic and preside over the blessing ceremonies. Sunday we begin the long journey home: Siem Reap to Bangkok, Bangkok to Taipei, Taipei to Vancouver, and Vancouver to Fort McMurray.
“When you near the end, do you start to feel odd about leaving?” I asked Kent.
I can’t remember exactly how he answered, but the fact that he keeps coming back suggests that a lot of feeling happens when you say goodbye to Siem Reap.
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