News from the driveway

The long title of this post is: Great news from Macaire’s worldly driveway. Indeed Macaire Everett and her muse brother Camden make the news again this Spring 2021, by publishing an amazing book, filled with more than 120 full page photos of chalk drawings by Macaire.

The book The world from our driveway (on Amazon) depicts the journey of two siblings facing the imperative remote learning, imposed by the pandemic. With its behind the scene section, the book shows how what started as a home remedy against boredom, turned into a family and community effort for promoting resilience and bringing smiles and joy around the world.

Macaire had largely shared her work digitally on social media. One of our earlier posts last Summer linked to her busy Instagram. It is such a relief that Macaire’s work, though ephemeral by design, can be preserved on paper. Maybe the driveway itself will some day receive a heritage site designation from UNESCO. And we are only half kidding, because we heard that museums around the world are racing to document life during this pandemic.

The compositions are so inspired and engaging, that picking a favorite is mission impossible. With Mothers’ Day coming up, see Macaire’s touching birthday drawing to her mother. It will melt your heart. For us at the Collection, if we had to pick one, it would the one titled We are all in this together. Not only is it a propos because of the pandemic, it is also one for which Macaire digged into her own personal archives, and in which she staged herself with her muse. In this image more than in all the other ones, personal and universal appeals come together and come full circle.

The world from our driveway, back cover. By Macaire Everett. Source: Amazon.ca, 4 May 2021.

Camera-ready

Drawings are known to be at the heart of our Collection. However, it is not limited to them and our blog has also touched upon other formats in the past. For instance, see our recent entries about collages and writings, such as notebooks and diaries. One format that we had yet to touch upon is photography by children.

Normal, we may say, because if access to paper and crayons is not universal, access to cameras by children is more than marginal, to say the least. Certainly, allowing children to handle expensive, fragile equipment comes with a stress most parents do not want to endure. Still, there are ways to do it and choosing the right time to make a child responsible for a camera, is the first step. Giving a purpose and an end goal, is also I way to engage the child. Take for example, combining the photographic activity with a drawing class, or a holiday documentary project. Even more engaging is making sure that parents and the rest of the family take part in the project and that the images are shared and discussed with family members. Taking photos can be a short easy-come easy-go activity that bores just as quickly. For the child to maintain and develop an interest in it, a broader purpose should be understood and shared. It can be a great path to deeper visual literacy for the child and improve observation skills, critical thinking and drawing abilities.

A nonprofit organization took it even further, by setting the stage for photography by children as a team effort, community-based program for personal growth, and a channel for social change. Meet 100 Cameras. Based in New York City, it operates globally to provide young people with cameras, so they can tell their own stories visually. Images are then sold online to fund local community-driven initiatives. Programs for educators are also available. We do not know yet whether the photographer gets to keep the original digital file, nor if an image only gets printed after a purchase is made, or if the photographers get their own prints. If you find out, make sure to let us know.

Photography Symbol for Wikipedia 20,  by Jasmina El Bouamraoui and Karabo Poppy Moletsane. Source: Wikimedia.org, 28 April 2021.

Celebrating all volunteers

The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the the first International Year of Volunteers. As a member of Volunteer Canada, our Collection joins thousands of organizations in celebrating the National Volunteer Week and expressing our appreciation for volunteers who help our organization thrive. Thumbs up to all volunteers from every generations around the globe!

Along with other initiatives, Volunteer Canada had the superb idea to include a coloring activity in its celebration kit. Share your enthusiasm about volunteering with the younger generation and make it culturally relevant, as it should be. You can also come up with your own illustration about volunteering. Please share it with us!

The value of one, the power of many. Source: Volunteer Canada, 18 April 2021.

CDIC welcomes new directors

Our organization is pleased to announce that three new directors have joined us. Dilshani Ranaraja, Maya Grubisic and Terri Register bring with them an array of skills and a common enthusiasm for our mission. They bring their respective expertise that will help the Collection to continue its steady growth and initiate much needed partnerships and continue database development. Welcome Dilshani, Maya and Terri!

CDIC promptly adopted its structuring policies, in its very first year of activities. Our volunteer program is already two years. We cannot thank enough our founding members, Alain, Andrée and Liliane for taking the leap in 2018 and leaving their indelible mark on CDIC.

Two Suns, detail, c1974. By Léo. Source: CDIC-CIDE.org.

Collage graduate

Online shopping has sky rocketed in 2020. Craft minded people know what that means: Plenty of packaging and wrapping supplies ready to be re-used in mix media collages. Here are a few leads to help you dive into the world of collages and stick to it.

Prolific teachers and creative parents will enjoy Kathy Barbro‘s suggestions on her Art Projects for Kids website. It includes Kandinsky and Matisse inspired projects, among others. For the passionate makers who never have enough, try all of 70+ Paper Collage Ideas for Kids, collected by Shruti Acharya on her Artsy Craftsy Mom website. The 10 extra large collages are our favorites. If you are serious about it, you will want your collages to last. Choosing the Best Collage Glue becomes imperative, and that is where Sherri Osborn comes to the recue, with her articles on The Spruce Craft website.

Sure we like Matisse and Miro, but we adore contemporary artists and, when it comes to collages, Jonathan Talbot is our master. Get the wizard’s insights from his book Collage: A New Approach.

Below is our Collection’s oldest collage, from the 1940s. Is is a still life put together by Lisette, with a paper cut school kit. Bess Bruce Cleaveland (1876-1966) was a prolific artist and illustrator from that era.

Still Life, collage, c1945, by Lisette. Source: CDIC-CIDE.org.

Write down to write it up

Children draw, paint, assemble and build, but they also write a great deal. Primary school children are often given the opportunity to describe their drawings in writing. This can be the beginning of a long string of personal writings involving homemade comic strips, diary entries and poetry creation.

There are plenty of personal journal products on the market and it is a most significant and enduring present a young person can receive from parents. In fact, diary or personal writing is an activity proven to be beneficial for anyone. So, why not start early in life? Have a look at Dr Melissa Madeson‘s advices for Self-esteem journals, prompts, PDFs and ideas published by Positive Psychology. Her “8 Self-Love Journal Prompts” are sure to help anyone get through what feels like a bad day. If you want to dig a little deeper into the subject, see Dr. Christian Jarrett‘s well-referenced article To boost your self-esteem, write about chapters of your life, published by the British Psychological Society.

Writing about or for oneself, however, might not be everyone’s cup of tea. So be it. Writing about anything that one cares about is always a good idea. Writing it on paper rather than on screen could make it more memorable and fun to go back to in latter life. We recently discovered the fantastic Canadian Science Fair Journal. A great place for kids to realize that they too can write about their science projects and discoveries!

A rabbit dreams of an eagle, by Mathieu, c2000. Source: CDIC-CIDE.org.

Emotional geographic

The connection between children’s drawings and education, art education or developmental psychology may appear to be a given. At the Collection, we like to argue that tighter connections to anthropology, history and ethnography would benefit the advancement of knowledge.

The interest in children’s drawings occasionally emerge from unexpected places. Alina Gabriela Tamas, who teaches in a kindergarten, made a surprising and stimulating connection between children’s drawings and the study of geography. Published in the Romanian Review of Geographical Education (Vol. III no. Feb. 2014), her article presents an analysis of 42 drawings of trees, by 21 pre-school children aged 4 to 7. It is concise and illustrated with all the related reproductions. Who would have thought that we should throw geography in the mix too?

Hello Tree, by Sahana, 2020. Source: CDIC-CIDE, 2021.

Post-pandemic schools

For safety reasons, we are using schools very differently during the pandemic. Air circulation, room capacity and group transitions all had to be reconsidered. Teachers use more electronics than ever, namely for virtual teaching and so do students. The need for breaks from screen time is felt by everyone. Each time the school goes to lockdown and reopens is an opportunity to reconsider whether we prefer to attend school from home mask-free, or at the school masked all day.

Will our school buildings feel increasingly obsolete as the post-pandemic era will set in and we gradually wake up from this collective nightmare? That is a question school trustees, policy makers and unions will certainly be addressing and debating. It is important that parents and their children also take part in this discussion.

Architects as much as anyone else should make their voice heard and encourage new ways to envision future learning spaces that are more adaptable to transitions from regular use to crisis situation. We came across the interesting website on architecture and education, edited by Adam Wood and Emma Dyer. They present over twenty interviews with fellow architects, teachers and other education professional on the subject. They also have a page on school museums around the world, like the Museum of Schools and Children’s Book, in Turin (in Italian). Revisiting what schools were like in the distant past, is one way to reconsider what they should look and feel like in the future.

Header banner, website. Museum of School and Children’s Book, Turin. Source: Fondazione Tancredi di Barolo, 28 February 2021.

Twigs with a twist

Just last month on this very blog, we paid homage to the stickman figure. Many told us it was a good move. So, for the fun of it, let’s keep it moving with renowned British artist Chris Kenny. See his dancing twigs and other uplifting works. Next time you go for a nature walk, let us see what you find. We also liked his other works, particularly where he mixes text and images.

Twelve Twigs 2019, by Chris Kenny. Collection of Kalmthout Arboretum, Belgium. Source: ChrisKenny.co.uk, 23 February 2021.

Paper cut

In a large urban setting on Earth, 2060. Sophia, 10, is watching her grand father clean up and sort things from a dusty closet. “Papi, what’s this?” she asks. “This my dear, is a crayon” he answers absentminded. She continues, “And that?” He realizes that he must pay attention. “Oh that is a sheet of paper with a drawing” and he sees that she waits to know more, but he is not sure if he could find a blank sheet of paper so that he could demonstrate further.

Is it too far-fetched to muse that in 30 years from now, we could find a ten year old child who will have never seen a pen and paper combo ? It is not hard to imagine if you consider the increasingly paperless world many of us live in, be it at work or at home. Computers and mobile devices proliferate and allow us to produce, authenticate, share and store documents without any paper or ink. Even office and home printer sales are decreasing steadily. We now make each single printing device print less than before. That is if we bother to own one at all.

Is there still “trash paper” in the homes, on which children can draw? Do blank sheets of paper now only come from the school? In their play, children often mimic what they see adults do. If grown ups at home or at school no longer use pencils and paper, what will inspire kids to do so?

In 2015, the Washington Post published an article by Michal S. Rosenwald. It describes how the paper industry was developing a campaign and public relations in order to keep the “brand” paper relevant against the odds, and to protect production levels or at least slow down its decline. The article explains how harmful digital culture has been to this product, and how the industry intends to fight back, namely by incrasing paper visibility online, of all places. Now a few years, plus a year of pandemic down the road, and the decline of print and writing paper accelerates. At least that’s what we see in industry reports such as one at Fisher International. As for office and home printers, all bets are off. In the past year, journalist Roberto Torres wondered in CIO Dive Will the pandemic spell the end of the printer? Shortly before that “predictionists” Duncan Stewart and Nobuo Okubo foresaw a rosy future for home printers in the new work from home era: Printer Charming: COVID-19 TMT Predictions. As our relation to the pen and paper combo changes, so it does for children. Print “single sided” and let them draw, for art Sophia sake.