Paint a Future makes dreams come true

They live in slums, shelters or on the street. They often don’t have any parents or go to school. Children in deprived situations have a rough time, but they also have their dreams. Artist Hetty van der Linden gives them paint and lets them paint their dreams. Artists incorporate the artwork of the children into actual paintings. Paint a Future then uses the proceeds of the sale of those works to realise their dreams for the future. An inspirational story about children who give colour to their future.




Children living rough paint houses, orphans draw a family and oppressed children paint themselves as a lawyer for the people. They are helped in this by the internationally-renowned artist and globetrotter Hetty van der Linden. “I once had the idea to get war orphans to draw their future dreams. I told them their brush was a magic wand they could use to bring their dreams to life. I incorporated the drawings as a collage in my painting. The resulting work of art was then sold and the proceeds went towards the orphanage in Split, Croatia. Paint a Future was born.”Now more than 100 artists from 40 countries incorporate the future dreams of less privileged children in their own works of art. The entire proceeds help these same children so that one day they will be able to realise their dreams. Schools have been built, children have been given housing again or sport facilities, and the food supply has received a fresh impetus”.




The success of Paint a Future has since been expanded with Sail a Future. “Irano Cavahlo, former Olympic gymnast, trains a group of underprivileged talented gymnasts on the Brazilian island of Florianópolis. Using the proceeds of a painting in which a drawing of one of the children was incorporated, the construction of a gymnastic school can soon begin. The Dutch Sport for Children Foundation, which restores used gymnastics equipment and makes them available for gymnastics projects, gave us a fine range of gymnastics equipment as a gift. And Fair Transport Shipping from the Netherlands, an organisation for sustainable transport overseas, was willing to ship this equipment for free on the sailing cargo ship Tres Hombres. On the way some gymnastics equipment was also unloaded at the Cape Verdean islands where talented gymnastics can now make their dreams come true. I thought: those immense sails would make such wonderful artists’ canvases! The same wind that once propelled the ships of the Dutch East India Company, and launched our Golden Age, is now bringing new opportunities to children in impoverished circumstances. This is how the idea for Sail a Future came about.” 



In Den Helder schoolchildren painted a sail of the Tres Hombres. The gymnastics equipment was loaded and Royal Talens delivered an entire truck full with paints and brushes. “The third stop was Setubal, where Portuguese children painted the other side of the sail. The local Royal Talens representative allowed us to choose to our heart’s content from a huge range of artists’ materials. The Tres Hombres then sailed to the smallest Cape Verdean island, Brava. The artists’ materials and some of the gymnastics equipment were unloaded on the various islands. The children there had never seen gymnastics equipment before, and creative materials were simply not available.” From Brava the Tres Hombres then set off for Brazil and makes its way back via the Caribbean. The idea is to have bags made from the sail for sustainable Christmas hampers, thereby creating sewing work for women. The hampers are full of sustainable articles, such as rum, chocolate and coffee bought by the Tres Hombres from small-scale farmers during their journey.


Paint a Future can count on support all over the world. Support is seen at Salon d’Automne, the famous International art exhibition, as well as at the Champs Élysées in Paris, where Paint a Future was given its own space. “A number of artists spontaneously decided to make a painting for us. As Royal Talens responded quickly and made paint materials available locally, prominent artists were able to make 14 paintings which incorporated the future dreams of deprived children. Art is a wonderful way to combat poverty and inequality. But this would never have been possible without the help of sponsors. Thanks to a growing group of buyers, benefactors and, of course, Royal Talens, who has been supporting us from the very beginning, Paint a Future, too, was able to turn its dream into a reality."




Hetty van der Linden