We experienced an unforgettable trip to Cuba sharing art and art supplies with the kids. Every Saturday on Paseo del Prado, a famous walkway in downtown Havana, there’s a festival of free art education for all the children led by Cecilio Aviles, the creator of the famous Cuban cartoon Cecilin y Coty, and a group of other artists who volunteer. 1
We purchased a bunch of art supplies here in the States, and assembled about 48 art kits while in Cuba.
In each kit we put a palette filled with the 3 primary colors plus 3 others, a paint brush, and 6 sheets of watercolor paper.
Unfortunately, because the tempera paint we used wouldn’t dry, when we arrived back to Havana via bus, the tempera paint smeared and mixed together. The paint is still fun to use and reactivates with water. Read footnote 2 for more info and what paint we will use in the future to avoid this mishap2 :/
We gave Mr. Aviles a packet of watercolor paper, and he gratefully replied, “This is good paper. It’s very hard to get good art materials in Cuba.” This is the sad reality, yet all the volunteers and children there were resourceful and making beautiful art!
Mr. Aviles was kind enough to sign my sketchbook and draw Coty, the feathered star of his comics!
Here are some photos of happy children with their new art kits!
While we were in Varadero, I painted Reinaldo, Junilo and their horse whom they brought to Hostal Giselle to do some remodeling. Hostal Giselle is a wonderful place run by Giselle, a warm caretaker who treated us like family and cooked as good as mom back home!
We gave them art kits for their children too! They were very happy!
- Here’s a link to the classic cartoon “Cecilin y Coty”: Click here for link to YouTube clip
- We will never buy this kind of tempera paint for this purpose again since the paint never dried, even though we left it in the sun for 2 hours. We only realized this after we took a long bus ride, took the palettes out of the suitcase, and all the tempera paint mixed together! It is still usable, fun to paint with and reactivates with water, but we weren’t too happy. The kids were still super thrilled, which made this a small blemish in a hugely positive big picture. We will use regular watercolor next time instead of tempera.