Blob post

It may have taken hundreds of millions of years, but the blob is finally reaching its long overdue fame, at the highest level. A blob has joined the International Space Station crew last month. Its reaction to a micro-gravity environment is under scientific scrutiny. Find out about the educational scope of the experiment in this short cnet.com article by Leslie Katz.

Many of us who love to draw, have of course had more than one encounter with the blob. The fun colorful two-dimensional one, that is. While you keep a curious eye on the ISS experiment with the yellow creature, revisit the many drawing resources about blob art on the web. Teachers will appreciate this Blob-Art Challenge presented by MarieLee Singoorie Trempe, on Pinnguaq. If you are more the hyperrealist type, make sure to see this Stephanie Villiotis’ article “How to draw a realistic blob of paint..” on Make A Mark Studios. We will definitely add some of these instructional video to our playlists. Marvel Comics’ Blob must be so proud!

Blob, by Audrey Dussutour / CRCA / CNRS. Source: CNRS.fr, 11 september 2021.

Spotlight on our volunteers

We would like to express our gratitude to Andrea Kaus for helping us in setting up and maintaining our YouTube channel for the past year. Andrea’s passion for video producing and editing is such a positive contribution to our Collection. She mapped out video series and story boards, designed the animated visual signature and edited each video. Andrea holds a diploma in Multimedia Development and Design from Humber College (Toronto).

We all remember how eerie the first wave and lockdown of the COVID-19 were. Everyone was coping with great uncertainty and adaptation during very emotional time. With a toddler at home, that is when Andrea reached out and made a commitment to CDIC. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

You have suggestions for new videos? You kept your childhood art for years? Andrea welcomes your suggestions.

Andrea Kaus, 2020. Source: Andrea Kaus.

News from @macairesmuse

Like thousands of people around the world, we discovered and followed their creative journey, when the first global lockdown hit home. Macaire’s chalk art on the family driveway brought solace to so many. Camden, her younger brother and muse made sure we identified to each lively scene of imaginary travel. The siblings had initially planned 100 “frescos”, but the series kept growing. Last spring they published not one, but two books. The second book is titled Cam and Hopper travel the world. It includes fewer images than the first, but they are more polished. That is because Macaire sort of brought the driveway indoor in order to spend more time on each drawing. The process still ended with the photo session outdoor. Macaire also added poetry to her toolbox and a haiku poem matches each image.

Macaire and Camden took some time off their busy back-to-school schedule, and told us a bit about an important drawing on paper. Macaire made it when she was Camden’s age. It portrays both of them side by side under a swirly rainbow. It was a family favorite, got framed and preserved to this day. Last year, it inspired an enlarged chalk version, became the 101st celebratory work and made it in the first book. Two words for these two: BRAVO and THANKS.

Frottage technique brings magic

It was made famous by surrealist artist Max Ernst, but other well known 20th century artists made good use of it, as mentioned on the National Galleries Scottland‘s website. Ernst may have pioneered and even gave frottage technique its name, but the technique of rubbing paper or fabric with pigment over textured objects, had long been used in various contexts. In 2015, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, co-presented with The Menil Collection, Houston, an exquisite exhibition titled Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now. Extremely well curated by Allegra Pesenti from the Menil Drawing Institute, the body of works shows the variety of media used alongside frottage and the incredible resulting images. Who would have thought one could use frottage on a typewriter?

To this day, artists from all backgrounds use the technique. One of our favorites is composer and conceptual artist Roger Clark Miller. Discover his visual art. For his music, follow The Anvil Orchestra. Live performers need and deserve our support during these dire times.

Frottage technique can make for a fun family adventure for rediscovering immediate surroundings. It is quick to use with whatever pencil, crayon or ink and never fails to lift the magic off seemingly ordinary objects.

Pete (Scrawl/Frottage), 2004, by Roger Clark Miller. Source: RogerClarkMiller.com, 29 August 2021

Interview with Mattia Biagi

While travelling in Hawaii, Los Angeles based Mattia Biagi took a few minutes to share with us the story of a water color circus horse, which he painted when he was a young adolescent. He makes sure to thank his grand mother for keeping this image safe for all those years.

As artist, designer and consultant, Mattia shows much enthusiasm for CDIC’s mission. There is a constant preoccupation with memory in Mattia’s creative process. See his poignant “tar art” and feel the weight of time. Dark times that his art brightens.

Sharp turn

Sometimes, inspiration just keeps quiet. You are in front of a blank sheet of paper and have no idea what to draw. You can always scribble and see what comes out. Or you can leave it alone and make a sharp turn. Take a pencil sharpener and just sharpen your pencils to the very last. Let a pencil sharpener save the day.

Of all the groovy collections out there, pencil sharpener collections will not fail to make you smile, even if all the muses of inspiration have abandoned you. We picked two of special interest for you to enjoy.

Sharpenking is a collectible commercial venture based in Wassenaar, Netherlands. They hold hundreds of items, buy and resell, as well as maintain a network of fellow collectors. Their Spanish Knights series display some mighty blades. The other collection does not have its own website that we know of. It shows up online as a road-side attraction by the regional tourism office, and also in many videos made by its visitors (like this one by Hoosier Boo). The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum is a tiny cabin at the foot of the Appalachians in Logan, Ohio. Family and friends of the late Rev. Johnson maintain this display of nearly 3,500 items that he collected over twenty years.

Pencil sharpener and pencil, 2010, by Alexander Klink. Source: commons.wikimedia.org, 16 August 2021.

Interview with Lisa Anne Auerbach

Los Angeles based artist and art teacher Lisa Anne Auerbach, met with us online recently. She candidly talks about a puppet that she made in 1976. Watch her while she shares how her “presidential” puppet came to be, as well as some of her childhood images.

We thank her for sending an uplifting message about keeping children’s art alive. Lisa Anne’s current art will make up her upcoming solo exhibition, Spring 2022, at Usdan Gallery, Bennington College, Vermont.

Do you also have objects that you made as a child? Share your story with us. We are one click away.

City mouse and country mouse

The Great Divide may be a song, it may also be a long trail in the Canadian Rockies, but surely the urban living vs country living divide is just as great. The cultural disparity between the two, not only precedes industrialization, in the time of de la Fontaine, it is probably as old as cities themselves, within long lost civilizations. A few enduring, current and developing events make it worthwhile asking ourselves what it will be like for children, growing up in cities or in the country side, during this century.

Worldwide urbanization has been an ongoing trend for generations and has also been accelerating, along with mass production and population growth. “By 2050, with the urban population more than doubling its current size, nearly 7 of 10 people in the world will live in cities” according to the World Bank, in 2020. The emergence of slogans like “Farmers feed cities” or “Farm to table, buy local” or “Stop urban sprawl” indicates that the relationship between city and country dwellers is evolving. We should probably add suburbanites to the mix, since they have had such an impact on the expansion of car culture and the undermining of urban cores as inhabitable spaces.

Two current events may signal that we can now contemplate with fresh eyes, the aforementioned irreversible trend. One is the scare COVID-19 gave to city dwellers, imposing on many to work remotely from home. It remains to be seen what percentage will continue to work from home, but some have already chosen to adopt this new lifestyle, and even left the city for less densely populated areas. This, coupled with the limited access to cities by country dwellers, exacerbates another issue that has long been denounced by rural citizens: lagging internet connectivity and poor bandwidth access. Small town folks have long decried the inequitable connectivity that they endured for too long. It is predictable that ex-urbanites will not accept losing it, no matter how far from the city they move, and work. As recently as last April, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) said that “since the pandemic started, rural speeds have been between one-fifth and one-tenth urban speeds (…) rural download speeds hovered around 5.5 Mbps, compared to roughly 50 Mbps in urban Canada.” Canadians already pay more for their communication service, than consumers in similar countries.

Sign of the time maybe, a group of young Canadian women have taken upon themselves to help students coming from remote areas to have better access to urban institutions, without losing their roots and identities. Meet the Foundation for Rural Youth Empowerment (FRYE). It is not uncommon to see rural youth abandon their studies and return home from a large centre. This brave group takes upon itself to breakdown barriers this population face. A mirror group for city youth who are foreign to the rural experience, would be a good idea. Just saying.

We should probably expect a new urban-suburb-country dynamic, with renewed cultural experiences, from now on. It looks like while the cities adapt in post-pandemic, so will everyone else outside the cities. This can prove to be quite interesting to watch, as far as intergenerational harmony or conflicts go. Soon, the urbanite’s weekend escapade from the city to cottage country, and the villager’s photo-safari in the city, might all tell a different story. It is even possible that these two worlds merge into one, at last.

Town mouse and country mouse, illustration by Milo Winter, in Aesop for children, 1919. Source: Gutenberg.org, 28 June 2021.

Artful mindfulness

Counteracting prejudices and discrimination is a serious and urgent matter that should concern each and everyone of us. But we are not yet out of this dreadful global pandemic, and many of us feel saturated with “serious and urgent.” So be it. There are ways to challenge prejudices and discrimination in colorful and playful ways. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) came up with a great educational tool, that will delight anyone who is fond of animated colors on the screen. Titled The Bias Inside Us, this project will tour the USA until at least 2023. It addresses crucial issues for our times, in a most engaging and accessible way. Enjoy, and tell us what you think with a drawing.

The Bias Inside Us, website banner. Source: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, 18 June 2021.

In memory of Françoise Roy

We are saddened by the passing of Françoise Roy (1924-2021), in La Pocatière, Québec. She embraced life and will be missed by all who knew her. Françoise had a long successful teaching and family counseling career. She was a pioneer in applying the Goodenough (draw-a-person) test, when helping children and their families. Françoise had been an early inspiration in creating our Collection. Her insights will continue to inspires us always. As a modest tribute to her, below is a drawing, published for the first time, by a child she had assisted. We can see her own handwriting notes, taken just after conversing with the child.

My family, c1982. Source: CDIC-CIDE, fonds Françoise Roy.