Painting With Light

Day 3 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Educational Toy Lite-Brite pegs vintage toys retro

Today’s prompt is “educational toy” and my mind strangely leapt to the unlikely candidate known as a Lite-Brite. This little invention came along in the late 60’s and allowed you to create artistic masterpieces that literally glowed by jamming multi-colored translucent plastic pegs (shown in this doodlewash) through black paper. All of this happened on top of a rather unsightly box that housed a standard lightbulb to produce a glowing effect through the pegs. As a kid, I ended up playing with a Lite-Brite long before I ever took my first drawing class, so this was my first experience learning to find the contours that make a thing look like the thing you intended. The pixellated creations didn’t allow for much detail, so you had to learn how to abstract them into their basic shapes while choosing the appropriate hues. And no matter what you made, the end result glowed in vibrant color and so it was guaranteed to look cool!

Although this little game could hardly qualify as painting, in my little mind at the time, I was indeed painting masterful luminescent art. Each little glowing peg I placed was like a stroke of the brush and, diligently popping in my pegs, I would eventually manage to make something amazing appear. Mostly, again, because of the glowing nature of my medium, but I was certain nobody had ever created a sailboat quite as incredible as that one. Interestingly, I was proud of everything I created as a child, but today, I’ll consider some things a failure and hope the next painting is a little more successful. Little Charlie never once worried if what he made was wonderful, because he already knew that it was. It wasn’t there before. I’d made it appear there, and therefore it was magical and amazingly good. There was never any doubt.

I’m not sure quite when I managed to lose this extreme level of confidence in my art. Perhaps it was that time later in art class when I was told there was actually a proper way to draw and paint. Maybe it was even before that when my creations where not just lauded by my mother, but actually seen and judged by my friends. Whenever it happened, today when I’m feeling uncertain, I just like to think back to my time with those little Lite-Brite pegs. Everything was possible and nothing could stop me from creating that stunning glowing fish or that perfectly symmetrical flower. I had no concept that this wasn’t real art and felt the power of my creativity with each little colorful glow. Many, many years later I would discover watercolor and once again enjoy the fabulous effects of a luminous palette. Still never worrying too much if what I’d created could actually be considered art and simply letting myself get lost in the wondrous experience of painting with light.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Indian Yellow, Sennelier Red, Red Orange, Phthalo. Green Light, Phthalocyanine Blue, Ultramarine Deep  and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
Day 3 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Educational Toy Lite-Brite pegs vintage toys retro

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
37 Comments
  1. a.filmer 12 months ago

    Oh, the hours we would spend on a snowy winter day creating beautiful “art” on our Lite-Brite. Thanks for the memories.

  2. memadtwo 12 months ago

    That must have been after my time…but it sounds like fun! Could be good for knit designing.
    If only we could regain that childhood assuredness…(K)

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yeah… this one didn’t really make it big until the 70’s I think. But was so fun!

  3. Teresa Robeson 12 months ago

    What a wonderful story of uninhibited creation! We all need to get some of that fearlessness of youth back (not too much or we’d hurt our sorry older asses…LOL!). You got a beautiful glow in the painting! 💙

  4. Sharon Nolfi 12 months ago

    Lite-Brite still sold at Walmart, Target, etc. I never had one – looks like it came out in 1967 – I was a teen by then.

    • Author

      Yep, you can still pick up a version today… a little sleeker than the giant clunky box that I had back in the 7o’s. hehe

  5. Bill Jackson 12 months ago

    Enjoyed your post Charlie. Though now I have the “Lite Bright” commercial jingle playing in my brain….over and over..😜

    • Ellie 12 months ago

      I didn’t remember that there was a jingle, so I Googled it. And now I, too, have it playing in my head. At least I brought it on myself. hehehehe

      • Author

        LOL… yeah… you did it to yourself! Is it just me or were they really good at creating jingles back then that were real ear worms? hehe

    • Author

      Thanks, Bill! 😃💕 Oh my gosh… yes! Lol I remember that… and now it’s in my head. Ugh!!

  6. Jacob 12 months ago

    Marvellous! Now comes the bit where you tell us you did all this with just two colours? 😉

    What a fantastically retro toy! And not the Speak ‘N’ Spell that I immediately predicted, given the prompt – this looks much more fun. 😛 I can vaguely recall similar, non-flourescent toys that did a similar job, but the introduction of light just takes it to another level, and I’m sure little me would have enjoyed it. A google for some of the stuff people have made is joyous!

    • Author

      Thanks, Jacob! 😃💕 Lol… nope… not 2 colors on this one… I’m not that magical. But it could have been done with only 3 instead of the 7 I actually used. (I was lazy…hehe). I actually thought of the Speak ‘n’ Spell, but then the Lite-Brite ultimately won out. It’s definitely fun to see what people can make with it though. Fun when things you had as a kid are still around. Makes me feel less old.

  7. Phil Cooper 12 months ago

    Lovely happy memories this brought up Charlie, thank you, my Life- Brite was very precious to me! The jewel like glow of those colours, marvellous 😊

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Phil! 😃💕 Yay! So happy you remembered this one. Wasn’t sure if it would resonate with everybody.

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 12 months ago

    As soon as I saw the Doodlewash, I knew what they are though Lite Brite is a toy I’d otherwise forgotten about. We bought sets for our sons and they had a great time creating pictures. It was one of those toys that I wondered why it had taken someone so long to think up. Of course the little pegs were always all over the house, and were they ever a pain to step on – literally. I think there are still dents in my feet from them.

    You’ve got a little kid in you, Charlie, the one who keeps getting you to be creative, loving, and upbeat. But you’re also an adult, capable of looking at the world through a mature lens. It’s the one that tells you have more to learn and practice and keeps you trying new things. Like a new Doodlewash every day. Great job!

    • Author

      Awww thanks so much for that wonderful comment, Sharon! 😃💕 Indeed, there is still much to learn, but also so much more fun to be had! I remember the Lite-Brite shrapnel all over the house… I’m not sure my mother loved it as much as I did looking back.

  9. Jill Kuhn 12 months ago

    I so loved creating, “art” on my lite brite!! Thanks for reminding me of those sweet childhood memories, Charlie!! 💕🎨 Great post today, friend! 🌈😃 And who cares if it is art as long as you have fun creating it!! Cheers🍷

    • Author

      Thanks, Jill! 😃💕 So happy you liked this post! Agreed! As long as we’re having fun then that’s what matters most!!

  10. I remember that toy, I always wanted one, but sadly in never entered our house, but my friend had one, so I did have a few goes…..directed by her! I was not allowed to do it on my own, because it was her toy, that she knew how to use, and so I just obliged, I was happy to stick pegs where I was told, just to see the end result of the light show.😀

    • Author

      Thanks, Rebecca! 😃💕 Oh wow… your friend sounds rather bossy! lol… but truly, the glowing lights were the real star so it didn’t matter much where things landed… it was awesome!!

  11. Ellie 12 months ago

    Oh, my Lite Brite! One of my favorites, and you have done it justice with those little pegs. They are glowing!!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Ellie!! 😃💕 So happy you liked this one! (And new what it was! hehe… wasn’t sure how many people would!). Such a fun toy!

  12. beverlydyer 12 months ago

    Now I’ll have that jingle in my head.

  13. beverlydyer 12 months ago

    On a different note, I really do not like the way WordPress has changed how everyone’s posts come up in reader. Do you like it?

    • Author

      Yeah, there have been quite a few changes lately and some seem a little clunky. Actually, I followed myself just to be sure my posts even showed up in the Reader. This one didn’t until I republished it. I think my Reader works pretty similarly though. What’s the change you’re not liking?

    • Author

      Beverly… I just realized what you meant on how WordPress displays in the Reader! On the Web version, it’s totally different. I was using the Desktop app and everything looked the same. With the Online version… everything is cropped oddly and condensed. Yeah… not a fan! Doesn’t work for artwork at all!

  14. familytreedet 12 months ago

    I have to admit that I remember this toy from commercials in the 1980’s. The great thing about that product is that it combines education and entertainment. If you could be so kind as to check out my blog and tell me what you think that would be greatly appreciated.

  15. thedoodlingdino 12 months ago

    Yes!! Great post.

  16. anshisaxena 11 months ago

    great post..lovely

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