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Children Can Tell the Difference Between Abstract Art and Kids' Paintings

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Some might argue that a Jackson Pollock painting looks like something a preschool kid could do, given a canvas and some paint. But abstract art is definitely distinct from the random splatters of a child, a new study finds. In research published in the Journal of Cognition and Development, children as young as age 4 were able to distinguish between the paintings of abstract expressionists and paintings by other kids and animals with similar compositions. 

The study, conducted by a team of Boston College psychologists, involved about 130 kids between the ages of 4 and 12 years old. They were asked to evaluate 18 paintings by abstract expressionist artists paired with 18 similar paintings done by preschoolers or zoo animals (chimps, apes, monkeys, and gorillas, in this case). Some pairs were unlabeled, and some pairs were labeled with one painting marked “artist” and the other marked "monkey," "child," or "elephant." Some kids saw unlabeled paintings, some saw paintings that were correctly labeled, and others saw paintings that were incorrectly labeled (for example, a painting by a monkey labeled as being by a human artist). 

The researchers found that even the youngest kids were able to successfully discern the work of a professional artist and a painting by a kid or a chimp in the unlabeled experiment. However, they didn’t necessarily think that made the art more appealing. When looking at unlabeled paintings, the 4- to 7-year-old kids preferred the work of other kids or animals, judging them as more appealing than the artists’ paintings. 

Both age groups were more likely to choose the artists’ paintings when asked to judge quality than if they were asked to pick the painting they personally preferred. But when the paintings were correctly labeled, the 8- to 12-year-olds tended to say they preferred the work of the artists. This suggests that not only does professional abstract art have qualities that sets it apart from superficially similar work, but that even young children see a difference between what they prefer and what is considered high quality. 

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

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Never Buy Drawing Paper Again With This Endlessly Reusable Art Notebook
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Art supplies can get pricey when you’re letting your kid’s creativity run wild. But with an endlessly reusable notebook, you never have to worry about running out of paper during that after-school coloring session.

The creators of the erasable Rocketbook Wave have come out with a new version of their signature product meant especially for color drawings. The connected Rocketbook Color notebook allows you to send images drawn on its pages to Google Drive or other cloud services with your phone, then erase the pages by sticking the whole notebook in the microwave. You get a digital copy of your work (one that, with more vibrant colors, might look even better than the original) and get to go on drawing almost immediately after you fill the book.

An animated view of a notebook’s pages changing between different drawings.

There’s no special equipment involved beyond the notebook itself. The Rocketbook Color works with Crayola and other brands’ washable crayons and colored pencils, plus dry-erase markers. The pages are designed to be smudge-proof, so turning the page won’t ruin the art on the other side even if you are using dry-erase markers.

Rocketbook’s marketing is aimed at kids, but adults like to save paper, too. Break away from the adult coloring books and go free-form. If it doesn’t quite work out, you can just erase it forever.

The notebooks are $20 each on Kickstarter.

All images courtesy Rocketbook

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This Amazing Clock Has a Different Hand for Every Minute of the Day
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In the video below, you can watch Japanese ad agency Dentsu transform passing time into art. According to Adweek, the project was commissioned by Japanese stationery brand Hitotoki, which produces crafting materials. To celebrate the value of handmade items in an increasingly fast-paced world, Dentsu created a film advertisement for their client depicting their goods as a stop-motion clock.

The timepiece ticks off all 1440 minutes in the day, and was assembled in real-time against a colored backdrop during a single 24-hour take. Its "hands" were crafted from different combinations of some 30,000 disparate small items, including confetti, cream puffs, tiny toys, silk leaves, and sunglasses.

"In a world where everything is so hectic and efficient, we wanted to bring the value of 'handmade' to life," explains Dentsu art director Ryosuke Miyashita in a press statement quoted by Stash Media. "We created different combinations of small Hitotoki brand items to express each and every minute."

You can check out a promotional video for the project below, which details the arduous crafting process, or view a real-time version of the clock here.

[h/t Adweek]

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