Cats! Dogs! Everyone knows what they look like but how many people have ever tried to draw them? If you have, you’ll know that they are difficult precisely because they’re so firmly ensconced in our heads. Everyone knows that a cat has pointy ears, whiskers and a long tail (Manx and specialty breeds excepted) but what we find as we start to copy them is that cats are very hard to capture on paper.
They’re equally troublesome in sculpture.
With that said, below are the fully engaging first time efforts of kids ages 5 to 10.
Aren’t they sweet? These were made in less than 45 minutes by children who are used to using really big crayons and pencils, not plastic knives, toothpicks and second-hand gift cards as tools. It was only after the fact that I noticed the cat on the right has eyeballs that have been reshaped from the original cartoon-style and a brown patch (fur? hair?) between the ears. Both feature wrap-around tails, which is pretty wonderful.
I hope they like them! It’s hard to create these little friends in a hurry, hand them off and then not see them for a week. The very young student who made the dog on the far right missed the other two clay classes, so he had no knowledge of this process. He really did not want to leave his creation and kept going back to try to take it with him. He was not overly impressed by my argument about the need for baking.
Again, I think you can tell which children are younger and which have had some experience. The dog in front, for example, has been hugely modified from the prototypes I provided. He sports streamlined eyes, a totally different pose and ears that seem to be shading his face from the sun. This student is very quiet in class; I’m always surprised by his creations.
Dogs aplenty! I should have repositioned my shot of the dog on the far left. That’s his paw in front. He’s begging! The dog second from the right is also begging, but his paw is sagging a bit, probably with the heat of the oven. I wish I had propped it up. I love that the middle dog has a cat’s eye as its nose! Isn’t that a hoot? That’s another very inventive student.
Well tomorrow is the monsters/aliens clay play class. I hope more of them are able to cut loose and imagine something wild and unusual. I feel for the girl who can’t get her hands to create what her mind envisions. That’s hard for artists of any age. I think I need to let them know I’ve been playing with clay on and off for over 45 years. That’s a lot longer than a few brief class sessions.
If you’re bored this week, I invite you to get out a pen or pencil and paper and doodle a cat or two. It’s an interesting experiment. I was sincerely surprised at the level of difficulty, even when I had good references. I think cats are as difficult as drawing hands and feet. Who knew?
Here’s to beginners of all ages who continue to learn and grow… —Chris