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Tale of two artists

Like most grandparents in Canada this year, I’ve given up seeing my grandchildren, Nathan, 9, and Avery, 7, in person since mid-March to reduce my odds of getting COVID-19.  

As a way to stay connected and feel useful, I’ve agreed to help with their learning while they cannot attend school. Each week, my son picks out an educational activity for each of them that lends itself to FaceTime conversation.

One week, Avery and I each undertook to make hearts to hang in our respective windows to say “Thank you” to essential workers.

Before the session, we collected art materials and a screen device to see each other and our respective works as they evolved. Avery set out a big sheet of plain paper and her markers at her kitchen table. I amassed coloured paper, scissors, magazines, and glue on my living room floor.

Avery decided to make a heart-shaped face. Every time she completed a section – a rainbow eyebrow, a heart-shaped eye, a flower nose, or a two-toned hair bow, she would show it to me.

Ah, I like the colour you chose for that!”

“Thank you.”

Every time I cut out a heart of a different colour, Avery would ask to see it.

“I like this one better than the one you just showed me.”

“Yes, me too.”

And so it went.

At the end of an hour, Avery had completed her masterpiece and was ready to hang it proudly for her mother, an essential worker, to see when she got home.

I had a lot of scraps and a pile of paper hearts of various sizes. The majority of them were green because the few magazines I could find focused on plants. I also had lot of misgivings about how I should arrange my hearts

For most of the following week, my project lingered on my living room floor. I made small tweaks each time I passed and waited for the sense it was “done”. Several musings about colour theory, experimentation with balance, and additional magazines and hearts later, I had a composition I was ready to glue into position.

I’m happy with it, but it lacks the joyfulness of Avery’s.

I’ve read a research finding that disturbs me. “The confidence of girls starts to plummet when they turn eight.”

“No-o-o-o-o-o!”

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