World Children’s Day 2023

Children should mean the world to us all, but still so many are suffering, even dying, east and west, north and south. This November 20th, we join a large number or not-for-profit organizations worldwide in denouncing the neglect and aggression on children.

Let us all familiarize ourselves better with children’s rights, and take part in open dialogue and civic participation in support of children’s safety and growth. There are many good sources of information at our fingertips on Internet. Take for example the research and reports by KidsRights, based in Amsterdam. Their findings are up to date and their programs involve youth directly, in nearly forty countries.

Meanwhile, as reported from the United Nation’s meeting of the committee on Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Issues this past October, you could hear national representatives throw the blame at each other regarding children’s safety worldwide. It is certainly a positive thing that they have the conversation, but the tone and good will should definitely improve.

In Canada this November 25th, the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children will host a webinar titled Youth Researchers’ Peer-to-Peer PAR Journey and Findings. For this occasion, youth researchers will discuss their work and findings. The webinar is open to children and youth who are interested. It is free and pre-registration is required.

Burning house. By Yvon, c1967. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

Hold that deep thought

Pundits of so-called artificial intelligence are only starting to surprise us with demonstrations of how this new tool can change the way we look at, and think about children’s art.

Computer scientists use different apparatus to achieve classification and analysis of children’s drawings, their elements, or processes that create them. To put it simply, they use digital visual recognition and mathematical models to build deep learning machines. Inspired by observations and studies made by humans, they sometimes compare the types and number of characteristics and categories which computers can process, with that of human scrutiny, in terms of accuracy.

Researchers who aim at developing tools for ever more efficient analysis of children’s drawings, will often prefer providing touchscreens to participants, and leave aside the pen and paper. This is a bit odd because not only drawing on a screen is a far cry from drawing on paper, but also the proportion of children who have access to a touchscreen is and will remain marginal for quite some time. This raises the serious question of whose drawings they are really talking about.

Take for example a study published in Alexandria Engineering Journal (Vol. 60, issue 1) in 2021, titled Classification of children’s drawings strategies on touch-screen of seriation objects using a novel deep learning hybrid model. The article by Dzulfikri Pysal, Said Jadid Abdulkadir, Siti Rohkmah Mohd Shukri, and Hitham Alhussian is available on Science Direct. It concludes that a quantitative analysis of children’s drawing process from a computational system is both faster and more accurate than a qualitative human analysis.

So be it, but one should keep in mind that the study uses born-digital images. We would think that this gives the computer a head start over humans.

For methodological reasons, researchers who develop machine learning systems for drawing analysis often prefer when children draw on screen. Another case in point is a study by Seth Polsley, and four fellow scientists titled Detecting children’s fine motor skills development using machine learning, and published in 2022 in the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education (Issue 32). Here again, the original drawings are created on electronic devices for the study.

There are AI scientists who dare challenge computers to “look” at and analyze children’s drawings created on paper. Ochilbek Rakhmanov, Nwojo Nnanna Agwu, and Steve Adeshina, of the Nile University of Nigeria did just that, in a study titled Experimentation on hand drawn sketches by children to classify draw-a-person test Images in psychology. Their findings were presented at the 2020 33rd International Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society Conference (FLAIRS 2020). It would be unfair to try and summarize their detailed article here. They sure deserve our respect for offering the only presentation, out of well over a hundred at that conference, to consider children’s drawings worthy of attention. The point is, it is nice to know that children’s drawings on paper can help research on machine learning.

One of the key challenges AI researchers face is the quality and size of data set they have access to. Researchers increasingly resort to online crowd sourcing to amass significant amount of data for their work. One of most accessible such initiative is QuickDraw, created by Jonas Jongejan, Henry Rowley, Takashi Kawashima, Jongmin Kim, and Nick Fox-Gieg, in collaboration with Google Creative Lab. This game invites anyone to help machine learning, simply by drawing on screen. According to Google, 15 M people have submitted 50 M images so far. The tech giant is transparent and upfront about making these images open source material for research.

Advancements into AI seem to already outpace human ability to keep up. Yet, we must try to grasp as much as possible its potential and impacts. The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) holds its 11th Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing (HCOMP 2023) at Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), this week until November 9th.

Robot. By Léo Beaulieu, c1972. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

Meet our Youtube volunteer

If you still have art from your childhood or teens, our new Youtube volunteer is looking to interview you.

Taran is based in the United States, and will meet you on Zoom for about 30 minutes. The recorded interview only takes 5-8 minutes. Feel free to ask Taran about robotics, or any of his many interests.

The activity is meant to encourage families to preserve these precious objects, and prevent their disappearance.

With Taran, you will share the image you have saved, its story, how it was preserved, and how you feel about it. We welcome interviewees from all backgrounds and walks of life. A broadcast release form will be provided. Simply email Taran at

New items now online

Nearly 150 new items are now available for viewing online. They were all created almost twenty years ago, and a contribution made by Gisèle Dallaire and her children in August.

The new images include several school activity sheets by Claire, and drawings by her pre-teen big brother, who showed enthusiasm for muscle cars and some comic book characters.

Autumn (detail). By Claire Chambers. c2004. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

Chezuba and Neha have our back

Recruiting highly skilled volunteers can be challenging for an all-volunteer charity with acute strategic planning needs. These past several weeks, we have been assisted by Chezuba in finding the right talent, and develop a comprehensive fundraising strategy adapted to our mission and vision.

Chezuba is a platform that empowers individuals to make a meaningful impact on their communities and beyond through volunteering. It was founded with the vision of creating a bridge between skillful, passionate volunteers and organizations striving to make a difference. Chezuba believes that volunteerism is not just about giving back; it’s about personal growth, community building, and creating a ripple effect of positive change.

Chezuba helped recruit Neha Panchal. Her strategic thinking acumen combines local commitment with global sensitivity that matches our values and networking. Hailing from the vibrant nation of India, Neha is a multifaceted development sector professional with a profound passion for community advocacy and a deep love for the environment.

Neha Panchal is not only a dedicated professional but also a passionate advocate for environmental protection and community service. She proudly co-founded the Vadodara Garden Lovers Group, a community of over 4000 members dedicated to nurturing green spaces. Additionally, she is an active member of the Creative Group of Women of Waghodia Road, where her passion for community service and environmental preservation continues to shine. Her commitment to community service is further exemplified by her role as Director of Community Services at the Rotary Club of Vadodara Heritage. With a wealth of experience in the development sector, Neha’s professional skills shine brightly, encompassing proposal development, documentation of MOUs, project compliance management, reporting, and program evaluation.

Neha Panchal

Neha’s dedication goes beyond her professional pursuits, as she has an extensive history of volunteering domestically and internationally across a wide range of causes, including animal welfare, arts and culture, children, disaster and humanitarian relief, economic empowerment, environment, health, poverty alleviation, and social services. She is the Volunteer Fund Raising Strategist for our Collection.

Hands full

Most of us have a so-called dominant side. We have heard that a left handed person might have a competitive advantage in sports, or challenges in other activities such as writing from left to right. How do you feel about your dominant side when you draw? Did you ever try to draw or paint with your other hand, or both? Maybe you are ambidextrous to some degree, and never pushed your limits as to know to which extend.

There are different ways to explore this. The simplest one is to draw simultaneously each side of one symmetrical object with each hand, like a jar, or a butterfly. It can even be just simple abstract lines that you draw to concentrate on your movements and not a figure, like in this exercise presented by encaustic artist Ruth Maude. You may find that you naturally slow down your dominant side to accommodate the other.

For more advanced level examples, you should follow Colin Darke, but if you do, go to his social media accounts. You will find more of his drawings there. Warning, an Irish contemporary artist has the same name, but with a very different artistic outlook. If you get as good as Colin, you might be able to draw an asymmetric picture with both hands, or even a different subject with each.

Now, if you are ambidextrous and you think you have a super power, you have never heard of quadridextrous Raja Cenna from the Netherlands. What she does is so mind blowing that it feels like you need to see her live to believe your own eyes.

Double draw exercise, by Alisa Burke. Source: AlisaBurke., September 2023.

Craft that rocks

The great thing about making craft with pebbles is that you can go about it with complete simplicity, or you can venture into a complex journey while collecting and sorting them, making sophisticated designs and images. Pebbles are generally easy to find, and you can use only one or hundreds of them in a single art piece. You can paint them, assemble them, or pile them up artistically.

When painting pebbles that you found outdoor, you need to clean and dry the surface before you apply acrylic. You might also decide to add varnish. This will not only make them shinier, it will make them more durable. See a detailed guide with design ideas and references prepared by Melissa J. Will a.k.a. the Empress of Dirt.

It is even more fun and challenging to use only pebbles and nothing else, except for a surface or terrain where to put them. This is land art, and part of the challenge is to let go of it after dedicating possibly hours of physical and mental work. We found two inspiring artists who have mastered this art each in their own right, one with abstract geometry and the other with realistic figures.

Jason Foreman is known as Sculpt the World and his photographic work is as impressive as his land art with pebbles. He also made works with sand, shells and water. Justin Bateman works in portraiture inspired by celebrities or famous paintings. Looking at his works, one can only wonder how he stores and sorts the pebbles. His abstract and conceptual works in other media are just as impressive. He offers mind blowing poetry and surreal drawings for children.

Finally, we need the help from Japanese readers, because that is where we found the most engaging rock balancing sculptures on the web, at the Ishi Hana Club.

Beach stones. Photo: David Bleasdale, 2005. Source: Wikimedia, 2023.

Children characters in comics

Something is brewing in literary studies, specifically among the comics and graphic novel scholars. Could it be the genre’s reckoning with its lasting and deep connection to childhood? If so, this is a good sign, as it reflects the maturity of the field, which painstakingly overcame the stigma of a literature of lesser importance. Stigma it endured for too long in the past.

At the centre of this momentum is a dynamic group of researchers, led by Maaheen Ahmed, at the Ghent University (Belgium). They initiated informed discussions about children characters in European comics, and the influence childhood had, and still have on writers and illustrators. They put in place the appropriately named COMICS project. In their own word, the project “advances the hypothesis that children in comics are distinctive embodiments of the complex experience of modernity, channeling and tempering modern anxieties and incarnating the freedom denied to adults.”

The instigators will host a conference this September 18 and 19th in Ghent: Comics, Children and Childishness. A rare coming together of literary criticism and the history of childhood, it promises to be an innovating event.

Another comics studies conference, this one covering a wide range of contemporary concerns, is to take place this week on July 27-29th, at the University of North Texas. Themed Comics on the Margins, it is hosted by the Comics Studies Society.

To follow progress in comics studies, see the academic journal The Comics Grid.

Source: Gyphy on Pinterest, 2023.

Donate a motorized vehicle

We are partnering with Donate a Car Canada to accept your vehicle donation from anywhere in Canada. Donate a car, a truck, a RV, or even a boat. You will be provided free towing, or you can drop off your vehicle to maximize your donation.

When you donate your vehicle to our charity through Donate A Car Canada, it will either be recycled or re-sold (depending on its condition, age and location). Donate a Car Canada will look after all the details to make it easy for our charity. You will receive a tax receipt after your vehicle donation has been processed!


Red car on the road. By Mathieu, c2000. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

Feet in the sand

Summer settles in over the northern hemisphere, and many of us will have the chance to enjoy good times at the beach. Below is an image from our collection that depicts a family having such a good time, feet in the sand. Family times at the beach build lasting memories.

Did you know that making sandcastles can lead to a life of travels and even earnings? There are dozens of amateur and professional sandcastle competitions, mainly but not exclusively, in the United States and Canada. They also take place in the Netherlands, Spain, Japan, and in Australia. According to the Guinness World Records, the latest world record for the tallest sandcastle is currently held by the resort Skulpturparken Blokhus, in Denmark. It measured 21.16 meters and was made of over 6 tons of sand.

Find illustrated descriptions of festivals and competitions in the United States, in Susan LaBorde’s article on her Happy Beachcomber website. She is a dedicated beach enthusiast. The Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Classic took place last week, and you can see what the masters crafted there by visiting their Facebook page. At ehCanada  you can see a calendar of this summer’s events in that country.

Sand has its own museum at the Sottori Sand Dunes in Japan. What an amazing place. See the good tips they give to encourage us to get right into the action of sand sculpting.

If you can’t make it to the beach, there are always imagination and… sandpaper to save the day. You can make amazing drawings using chalk or oil pastel on sandpaper. Stacey of Capturing Parenthood has all the sandpaper art tips for us. There is also much more to do artistically with sandpaper, as we found out from Jackie Myers’ article on the Art of Education University website.

I go to the beach. By Sahana, 2021. Source: CDIC-CIDE.
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