the newest sailor scout

Somewhere along the line while playing with the dolls this week, I managed to learn a few things about articulated paper dolls and kids in general.

First of all, I think that my process for making dolls templates has a fatal flaw, and that is failing to take the time to properly portion my doll.  I will, next time (tomorrow maybe), start with a figure and then break apart the limbs where I see fit.  In my rush to get things moving for the kids, I just sort of drew pieces and then off we went, simply enamored with the novelty of the jointed dolls.  I think we're ready to step up our game and take the time to plan out our dolls better.

Second, I learned that all my years of drawing sailor scouts when I was a teenager for my little sister's insatiable hunger for all things Sailor Moon has obviously imprinted something on my artistic psyche.  Because if this off the cuff doll isn't Sailor Victorian, I'll be a monkey's aunt.

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No, seriously, she makes me laugh.  But she has a corselet, so that's something.

Third thing I learned is that kids can't help comparing their own work to adults.  While I think my drawing is funny and badly proportioned, girl child is greatly envious at what she considers my superior drawing skills (we used the same template) and looks down at her own work in comparison.  While I am completely agog at her independent and creative rendering of Coraline, she's all, 'Mom, your drawing is waaaay better than mine and I'll never draw as good as you.' Which is laughably untrue, especially since I have barely drawn anything in the last twenty years, but it's hard for a nine year old to see that.

Comparison is unhelpful and not realistic.  I tell her this.  She still compares themselves to others.  Because she is human.     

It makes me think of a book I read years ago about how exposure to adult drawings - in children's books, colouring books and the like - can stunt a child's artistic expression because their own first attempts at drawing, say, a dog look nothing like the dog illustrated in their colouring book.  I suppose it's possible that they might feel discouraged, depending on the environment in which their art is being evaluated. 

(Come to think of it, I would actually argue this point for people perusing Pinterest.)

It's equally likely that a child will strive to improve by their own standards to the best of their ability, also depending on their environment.  I can not see limiting a child's exposure to good art, lest their self esteem suffer.  I'm not sure I believe in self esteem, at least in the present day packaging of 'you are special.'  If self esteem is based upon failing to appreciate skill and talent in others, I wouldn't want to have anything to do with it.

Anyway, girl child has been studying and copying my techniques as I draw and is well on her way to imprinting sailor scouts on her own artistic psyche, probably to her artistic disadvantage in the future.  Which brings me to why I think I should find her some art classes or a tutor to broaden her horizons and develop some skills.  She's quite involved so far, never being very far from her paper and pencils, producing twenty to thirty drawings a day as she has been for years.  Despite the thousands of children's books with drawing by adults and the thousands of paintings she seen in books and hanging on walls in homes, galleries and museums, her artistic drive seems to remain, stubbornly, un-stunted.

We have one whole week before her schedule for rehearsals and show days is kicked into super high intensity.  Rehearsal and show weeks (three in total) include some five to eight hours a day, not including making 'show hair' happen.  We're going to see if we can come up with some Alice in Wonderland character templates to scan, print and share with her friends in the green room while they wait for their cues.  I will definitely share here if we manage to come up with something presentable and, hopefully, not shaped like a sailor scout.


  1. I'm wondering if that comparing things is also more of a girl thing. My daughter will do the same thing with her drawings of people (I like to draw people, though I am still not very good at it). However, her horses are AWESOME and way better than mine. Probably because she draws them every day.

    I love the dolls. I really want to make some, but I only have a week off from school and the kiddo really needs some warmer pants for winter. That takes precedence.

    Can't wait to see the Alice dolls!

  2. I definitely shy away from drawing with my kids, since my eldest (7) over-compares herself to me sometimes, and it's frustrating. But I really shouldn't let that get in the way. I appreciate your thoughts on self-esteem-- I think it you've hit the nail on the head.