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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are plenty of suggestions on the web, on how to make your own paint brushes, funky or more conventional ones. We thought we’d share one of our favorites by Miss Annie on Instructables. The step by step and the photos are clear and engaging. It sure is a fine way to save on art supply spending and make one fully appreciate how personalized tools can stimulate creativity and style.
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.
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.
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.