Sunday, November 29, 2015

Give Kids the Gift of Imagination

When we were kids we made up games, constructed toys out of other things, created fantasy worlds, and sometimes we even had imaginary friends. Today's kids are so scheduled with such things as daycare, school, after school sports and other supervised activities that they have very little, or no time for creative play. When not being directed by adult in how to do something, they are often parked in front of some screen.

There is currently a Duracell Star Wars commercial in which their batteries are powering light sabers. A boy is fighting off storm troopers to save his sister.  Together they continue the fight. Storm troopers bite the dust ...or the kids take their light sabers to an inflatable snowman in the front yard.

During this commercial, of what I would see as normal childhood play, a message appears on the screen informing viewers that certain scenes are nothing more than a Fantasy Sequence.  Well, Duh!  Has it really become necessary to remind people that this is the natural way for children to play?  If so, I suggest everyone step back and leave the kids a few hours a day to just explore their world and rediscover their imaginations.  Without it we will have a whole generation incapable of inventing anything.  In a country where great minds have produced such things at insulin and electron microscopes, snow blowers and snowmobiles, electric ovens, electric wheelchairs and car heaters, Pablum , cardiac pacemakers and of course Canadarm, that would be devastating to our future growth.  Can you imagine how you would get along in the world today without the things others have invented through the years?

Child play produces creative children who learn how to solve problems. Creative children invent their world, and things to play with.  And sometimes, as adults, they invent useful things for the rest of us too. Duracell has just pointed out that perhaps some of today's adult population has forgotten that it's perfectly normal for children to enact fantasy sequences, and feels it necessary to label them as such. Surely we can tell the difference. Or perhaps the labels are meant for the children because they no longer have much experience with fantasy, and need to be told what is real and what isn't. Either way, I find that sad.

If you are wondering what to get your kids for Christmas this year, perhaps you should skip the electronics department. Find something they have to find a way to play with....even if you have to get down on the floor and do it with them. For instance, put together a train track with your boys, or have a tea party with your girls. Maybe you could get them books you could read to them, so their imagination fills in the blanks.  Put away your own electronics, and just play with the kids, even if you have to resort to old fashioned board games. They will love you for the time you spend with them, and someday they will remember the year you gave them their imagination for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Art School Fair

This past weekend I attended the first ever Art School Fair in Ottawa. It was an art materials trade show, but it was great fun.  The vendors were from the manufacturers themselves, so they all knew their products well. They were able to demonstrate and answer questions, and in many cases you had the opportunity to try the products before making the decision to buy.  Some of the vendors even handed out samples.  What they were really good at was getting you inspired to try new things.

The admission price was just five dollars, which was waived if you signed up for one of the many courses available.  I didn't do that this year, mainly because the ones I was most interested in were fully booked by the time I found out about the show.  The event was a great success though, so I hope I can get in on at least one of the classes next year.

As this is the first year for the Art School Fair and because it went so well, hopefully they will find ways to expand it in coming years. I am very sure they will do it again, and I am also sure I will attend.

I certainly came home with more than my entrance fee in samples.  I got a PITT Artist Pen, some watercolour dip dots from Daniel Smith, a nice little bag with 6 products from Golden, plus a beautiful t-shirt I will be proud to wear. I also purchased a new journal in support of the Ottawa Art School for another $5.  It is divided into right brain and left brain sections. A quiz inside tells me I'm definitely Left Brained, which kind of confirms my theory that I'm not all that creative.

Did this trade show do it's job? Yes, indeed. I came out of there knowing about products I had never heard of before, and plans to try them.  I want a water soluble graphite pencil. More than that, I want some Daniel Smith Watercolours. They have granules in them that create interesting textural effects and I'm already dreaming up ways to use them.  I also am very interested in the Mixed Media products by Pébéo.  Yes, I'll go again next year, and every other chance I get.  Great show!