Drawing a Day

On the first day of summer vacation I gave Ro and Sen each a fresh new sketchbook, a small soft covered one that was easily portable so they could take them around town to parks and on our daily adventures. Ever since I can remember an empty sketchbook was a thing of delight to me, offering endless possibilities of how it would be filled, how it would become “my” sketchbook. I was happy to see that both Ro and Sen were excited at the prospect of empty pages waiting to become records of their creativity.

Drawing a day project

I am definitely a parent who believes wholeheartedly in the benefits of unstructured play and days without plans aside from walking out the front door. At the same time, I recognize that children can crave structure and that summer time is a chance to develop those skills in your children that may not be cultivated at school. So, in the interest of creating a beautiful record of our days and in helping the children see how practicing something daily could be very rewarding, I set the children the task of doing one drawing a day over the summer.

The task was fairly open ended: draw anything. Draw something you see at the park, draw something from your imagination. Just draw.

Sen, being just a young 3 years at the time, had never had his own desire to draw, as Ro did at the same age. But, Sen does love a good challenge, so he happily set to drawing whatever happened to come to mind: a tractor or the popsicle he had just eaten. As the summer went on, he had days where he just wanted to scratch some colour on the page and have it done with so he could run and jump in the pool. And other days (when the pool wasn’t there to jump in) I could see him scanning his surroundings looking for inspiration. Tip: if you want your children to do something they may not be naturally inclined to do, make sure it’s more interesting than other options available to them, like a pool.

Sen’s drawing of a popsicle – most days Sen would carefully draw something, taking his time to thoughtfully shape his drawing, and then once the shape was done he would (un)ceremoniously colour it in, leaving it looking like a scribble, as you see here.

My favourite drawing of Sen’s was from a day we sat at a pond in our neighbourhood and Sen excitedly knew exactly what he wanted to draw. It may not seem remarkable, perhaps, but it was remarkable to me. And it was for him, because he didn’t need anyone to feed him ideas, he had his own. He couldn’t wait to sit down with his pencil and put his idea on paper. “No looking until it’s done, Mama!” But…I may have snuck a little peek. And what I saw were long green lines. Ah, yes, I thought, he’s inspired by the park, by the beautiful grass. A moment of self-approval washed over me for being that parent who inspires their child to draw the beauty of nature. “It’s done, Mama, you can look.” “Wow, Sen, that is beautiful grass. Good for you.” “No, Mama, it’s very long green hair!”

Ro, on the other hand, loves to draw. This past summer she was very interested in learning to draw from photos. Being intrigued by the curious Instagram app (that her mom paid a little too much attention to…), she asked if she could look through the photos there for inspiration on the days that we were doing drawings at home. As she scrolled through my Instagram feed, she began to understand why I was so drawn to it, with all the inspiration and creativity found in little 3X3 squares.

She ended up doing a few drawings over the summer that were inspired by photographs she saw on Instagram. I found it really interesting that she naturally chose photos from artists. A drawing I particularly liked was a fern study inspired by a photograph by artist Kajsa Wallin who goes by @kawaspics on Instagram. For this drawing, she had to really slow down and focus on the small differences between the leaves from different varieties of ferns.

On another day she drew dream catchers inspired by artist Faith Evans-Sills, who you can find as @faithevanssills on Instagram.

It might seem that way sometimes, but Instagram isn’t the only source of inspiration (note: read in sarcastic tone of voice). Something I try to do often is talk with Ro about inspiring historical figures like artists, peacemakers, politicians, and environmentalists. But just as important is talking with her about how we are all capable of great things and of inspiring others to action. One of these everyday people is Paulie Eaborn who is the creator of the Pray4Trax necklace. After hearing about the necklaces, I wanted share the story with Ro. These handmade, child safe necklaces are sold to raise money to support a boy named Trax, who is living with cystic fibrosis. Paulie and her son Tysi, have never met Trax or his mom Kassi, but they knew they wanted to help. What started as a small project selling necklaces to raise funds for Trax’s treatment, turned into a wave of support for Trax and awareness of the disease. And perhaps, most importantly, reminded us how one small action can have a huge impact. Tysi and Trax’s story really moved Ro, and she wanted to see the necklaces right away so she could draw them.

With my thoughts already, and always, drifting toward summer vacation, I am looking forward to renewing this activity while off with the children. Ro’s drawing technique has really evolved over the last few months, and Sen has finally found his own organic interest in drawing (mostly robots and ninjas, in case you were curious). I can hardly wait to see how they will fill their notebooks this summer, recording our days through the simple ritual of pencil to paper. Whether the rewards of last summer’s practice were felt by Ro and Sen, I’m not sure, I think that realization will take longer to come. And so, another summer of drawing it is!


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