How Benny West Learned To Be a Painter
IN old times there lived in
He had never seen a picture. The country was new, and there were not many pictures in it. Benny's father was a Friend or Quaker. The Friends of that day did not think that pictures were useful things to make or to have.
Before he was seven years old, this little boy began to draw pictures. One day he was watching the cradle of his sister's child. The baby smiled. Benny was so pleased with her beauty, that he made a picture of her in red and black ink. The picture of the baby pleased his mother when she saw it. That was very pleasant to the boy.
He made other pictures. At school he used to draw with a pen before he could write. He made pictures of birds and of animals. Sometimes he would draw flowers.
He liked to draw so well, that sometimes he forgot to
do his work. His father sent him to work in the field
one day. The father went out to see how well he was
doing his work. Benny was
Up to this time Benny had no paints nor any brushes.
The Indians had not all gone away from that
The Indians near the house of Benny's father must have liked the boy. They showed him how to make red and yellow colors for himself. He got some of his mother's indigo to make blue. He now had red, yellow, and blue. By mixing these three, the other colors that he wanted could be made.
But he had no brush to paint with. He took some long hairs from the cat's tail. Of these he made his brushes. He used so many of the cat's hairs, that her tail began to look bare. Everybody in the house began to wonder what was the matter with pussy's tail. At last Benny told where he got his brushes.
A cousin of Benny's came from the city on a visit. He
saw some of the boy's drawings. When he went home, he
sent Benny a box of paints. With the paints were some
brushes. And there was some canvas such as pictures are
painted on. And that was not all. There were in the box
little painter now found himself rich. He was so
happy he could hardly sleep at all. At night he put the
box that held his treasures on a chair by his bed. As
soon as daylight came, he carried the precious box to
the garret. The garret of the long stone house was his
But the schoolmaster missed him. He came to ask if Benny was ill. The mother was vexed when she found that he had stayed away from school. She went to look for the naughty boy. After a while she found the little truant. He was hard at work in his garret.
She saw what he had been doing. He had not copied any
of his new
His mother could not find it in her heart to punish him. She was too much pleased with the picture he was making. This picture was not finished. But his mother would not let him finish it. She was afraid he would spoil it if he did anything more on it.
The good people called Friends did not like the making
of pictures, as I said. But they thought that Benny
West had a talent that he ought to use. So he went to
At last he settled in England. The King of England was at that time the king of this country, too. The king liked West's pictures. West became the king's painter. He came to be the most famous painter in England.
He liked to remember his boyish work. He liked to remember the time when he was a little Quaker boy making his paints of poke-juice and Indian colors.