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  • Élyse

Drawing outside the lines

It was the boy's birthday a month ago, and they were so spoiled. Their best bud bought them a pillow case that they can permanently paint on. There’s a landscape already drawn on the pillowcase of a pirate ship, an island, the treasure... I get one of the guys set-up with the permanent paint, and we talk it over. The concept of permanency can be pretty scary for everyone… and I love that this pirate pillow case has brought us to philosophy about this concept. We’re reflecting on choices, our vision, on how to plan our work, how to accept what happens, and how we must respect every trait as it’s part of our story, our canvas.


I’m anticipating a breakdown as the black lines are pretty close together and he doesn’t have the right brush to get to all this detail. I could go get him the perfect brush in the studio, but I have to sit back and see what happens. This could go either way. I know that whatever happens, there’s some major learning going on, and that’s just great.


I get sidetracked with something else (do you ever get sidetracked?) He then comes to show me his finished pillow case, and it looks like this:




He made this. The attention in the water, the new turquoise color that he’s created, the movement... He says it reminds him of the ocean in Guadeloupe that really struck him. He explains to me that he added water to the paint so that it would look more like the ocean. He’s proud of his work. I am over-proud of him. He also tells me that he let his brother paint the treasure to make him happy.


I’ve been battling sterile drawing for years, you know, the type of drawing that’s contagious (ex: drawing M’s for birds flying in the sky). Kids don’t actually naturally draw birds like that, they just absorb it from someone else.


When the kids were in kindergarten, the school had asked for us to send colouring books (with black line contour illustrations) for kids to draw in when it rains outside. I sent a white page scrapbook and the teacher sent it back, telling me this was the wrong type of book and how everyone needs to have the same thing or else everyone will want his book. So let me get this right… the teacher also knows that every kid is dying to draw freely, that this is where it’s at for their broader development…?! I'm confused.


Why are we so stuck on drawing between the lines?

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