Meanwhile in adolescence

If we judge by the vast scientific and non scientific literature about the analysis of children’s drawings, it is safe to say that art therapists mainly use drawing analysis in their work with young children and their families. It is also safe to say that, in general, adolescents draw less than younger children. This is for various reasons which are not the subject of this article. Instead, we have a first glance at art therapy in the treatment of adolescents. Literature on that subject is scarce by any standards.

Three researchers based in Israel, Adi Barak, Nurit Wolk and Dani Yaniv, published just last April, the results of their qualitative study of adolescents drawing from observation. Titled Different shade of beauty: Adolescents’ perspectives on drawing from observation, the article was published on the Frontiers in Psychology‘s website. It includes some interesting illustrations and quotes from the participants. It provides practical comments directed at art therapists. The observations about aesthetic judgement and self-acceptance will not be lost on them. Drawing from observation, combined with practice in mindfulness and a shared sense of empathy and reality, seem to be an effective approach in art therapy.

Another article drew our attention. It has however no illustrations and is quantitative in its approach. Prepared by Katherine Bottinelli, Cecilia Cheung and Yena Kyeong, the article is available on the ResearchGate website: Adolescents’ drawings and divergent thinking – Does culture matter? Here is no place to dive into what divergent thinking is, but you might find interesting that this study compares American and Chinese adolescents.

tree, pencil, paper, 1970s
Spruce and pine branches. Yvon, 14, c1972. Source: CDIC-CIDE.org

Broom with a view

We collect items that are very much part of the day to day lives of young families around the world. For this reason, it is natural for us to admire those collectors and curators who do the same. Near the city of Jodhpur in Western Rajasthan (India), Arna Jharna: The Thar Museum is doing just that by collecting and curating Jhadus or brooms.

The museum was founded in 2000, by late folklorist Komal Kothari. It displays 180 types of brooms, according to Supriya Newar‘s thorough article on Live History India. Simple objects provide amazing insights and the brooms helps visitors to explore the stories of the people of Rajasthan, their working and spiritual lives, as well as their natural surroundings. Another article by Chelsea Santos, Assistant Curator at The City Palace Museum of Udaipur, brings us closer to the Arna Jharna museum. It is published on mainlymuseums.com.

In 2016, the picturesque Musée Calbet in Grisolle (France) had also celebrated the broom in a special exhibition, from a different source and perspective.

Brooms at the Arna Jharna Museum, with tags that mention geographic location and name. Photo: Chelsea Santos. Source: MainlyMuseums.com, 30 October 2021.

Fired up

This blog entry steps away from pens, pencils, chalks or paint brushes and sheds light on a different way of creating images, just as ancient. It is not crocheting or weaving, not bas-relief carving either. Let’s talk about pyrography, the art of drawing with heat or fire on wood, leather, metal of even glass. The most commonly used method however is on wood.

Our collection holds no sample whatsoever of such pyrographic works made by children. For sure there are some out there, because the pyrography tools are still selling aplenty. They were all the rage back in the 1950s and 1960s, when a wave of new consumer products became sought after items for crafty families.

To get a sense of the ancient origin of pyrography, see the short article by Working the Flame, a collective endeavour of aficionados: A brief history of pyrography and wood burning art.

Few artists excel in pyrography. One who masters the traditional figurative imagery is Julie Bender. Her small scale works, the beautiful fine art coasters, are as impressive as her large scale sport, pet, farm or wildlife works.

The one contemporary artist who took pyrography to another level is Cai Guo Quiang with his artworks made with gun powder and fireworks. His recent Exploding the self project is enough to convince anyone of his daredevil way.

Now why not turn up the heat and give it a try. Next is a video by Mercedes Grundy for CBC Art. In it, artist Aicha Lasfar makes a full demonstration in less than 3 minutes.

Portfolio time

The school year is well underway and drawings and paintings are already piling up, at school and at home. Teachers and parents, make time for helping kids with their portfolio. It is a good opportunity for revisiting recent images, talk about what they mean and compare their qualities and stories. It is also a concrete way to bring up the fact that there is limited space to keep and store them. The decision to keep, toss or send drawings to us for inclusion in the Collection, is best made in collaboration with the child. One way to approach this is to empty last year’s portfolio and reuse, it year after year.

See the simple step by step article by Julee from Warm Hot Chocolate, published on Modern Parents Messy Kids. It illustrates how to make a portfolio at home and the required materials. Make it sturdy for lasting or multiple uses. Happy crafting and sorting.

The elements of art. By Rishi, 2020. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

A reading list

Books and scientific articles about or inspired by children’s drawings are few and far between. In our blog, we pointed to a variety of them over the past three years. We have prepared a list of selected works for quick consultation. Take a moment to pick your favorite ones and share the information with your friends or colleagues.

We welcome your reading suggestions, for the benefit of all who care about our conservation mandate. Conservation and conversation are made for one another.

Reading glasses. Photo: Mari Helin-Tuominen. Source: wikimedia.com, 26 September 2021.

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.