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The Magic Dust of Child Artists

Wed Sep 12, 2012, 7:35 PM by techgnotic:icontechgnotic:








:icontechgnotic: Sep 12, 2012 by techgnotic

When recently asked how his political candidate would explain certain positions taken during the
nomination process with contrary positions to be taken during the general election, the campaign chief
replied that stated political positions were “like an Etch A Sketch,”—meaning they could simply be
flipped over, erased and begun over from scratch.


Were it that adult life were as simple as a happy Etch A Sketch memory from childhood.


(The campaign chief took heavy heat for his flippant, if truthful, statement.) The incident made
me wonder how many of us had early experiences as “sketch artists” with that incredible red toy that
has become almost standard issue for so many children still to this day.















For those unfamiliar with the magical plastic slate, an Etch A Sketch is filled with aluminum powder
which scraped off a glass screen with a simple stylus operated by the artist (one knob controls horizontal,
one vertical—the true artistry comes in the dual knob operation required for curved lines). The art itself is
fleeting, a simple flipping over of the tablet makes polystrene beads re-coat the glass “canvas” surface
with the aluminum powder. Like so many, I spent many an hour engrossed in trying to produce
ever more evocative works from that simple art machine, forever trying to learn that perfect touch to get
the curved lines right.



We house an incredible array of line art drawings on deviantART that are pure amazement of detail and
meticulous design. There is a natural thread that flows through the first workings of an Etch a Sketch beginner
through to the mastery of beautiful sketch or line drawing by a skilled artist.




Line Art Drawings (on deviantART)





























An Interview withJane Labowitch


I thought it would be best to have a friend of one of our most skilled Etch a Sketch enthusiasts handle this introduction.







:iconayame-kenoshi:


Ayame-Kenoshi:




It’s with greatest pleasure that I introduce Jane (pikajane), one of deviantART's most talented Etch A Sketch artists. She
creates masterful portraits and stunningly accurate fan art, all by deftly turning those two knobs on that small plastic box that
frustrated so many of our childhoods. Her efforts have earned her a
deviantART Creative Grant
-- a program providing a source of funding to allow artists to make their creative dreams a reality. Jane plans to use her deviantART Creative
Grant to create two installations to be displayed in galleries. The first installation will be a life-size rendition of a skeleton,
using multiple Etch A Sketches mounted to a wall. The second installation will be a 3-dimensional piece using a skeleton as a base
for several mounted Etch A Sketches, which will act as a sort of "reverse x-ray." She's already hard at work on this project,
purchasing Etch A Sketches and depicting various parts of the skeleton. In this interview, she talks about working with her chosen
medium, her plans for future projects, and gives tips to aspiring Etch A Sketch artists.













techgnotic:

Why Etch A Sketch? Is this a purely artistic aesthetic fascination or something deeply meaningful to you? How long have you worked with Etch A Sketches?





pikajane:

I started playing with an etch a sketch when I was about 4, and as a child I didn't realize there was anything special about being able to create anything more than rudimentary shapes. It started as a toy I loved to tinker with, but throughout my life it has grown into a passion. I love painting and drawing and working digitally, but there is something truly special about creating art on an etch a sketch for me.









techgnotic:

Can you sense who is going to immediately “get” your art and who will be less receptive; i.e., does the medium being viewed first as a child’s toy block some people’s ability to appreciate the quality of the art?





pikajane:

Yes! There are definitely some that are more receptive to my art than others. Sometimes I feel as though people will respond the same to my etch a sketch art no matter what I etch. I have to keep myself in check so that I don't get complacent--I always want to keep improving!





















techgnotic:

Beyond your Etch A Sketch-Skeleton project, do you have an ultimate Etch A Sketch installation idea?





pikajane:

I have a few project ideas I'd love to pursue. Lately I've been wanting to create images using multiple etch a sketches, so that when you set them next to each other, the individual screens comprise the full image. I am doing this with a few etch a sketches for the skeleton project, but I'd also love to try this with some famous paintings. I also have a few series ideas running in my mind, but nothing has been fully planned yet. If I could work on an ultimate etch a sketch instillation, I think it would be a mural made entirely out of etch a sketches.



















techgnotic:

What are your best tips for an EtchaSketch artist?





pikajane:

First and foremost, practice practice practice! Everyone has to start at the basics. Even I did when I first started playing with an etch a sketch. The only reason I got where I am today as an etch a sketch artist is because I have put a lot of practice into my passion. And the more you play with an etch a sketch, the easier it gets.



To everyone that would love to start etching, here's a few tips for how to improve your skills:


Practice basic shapes, starting with the square. When you turn both knobs at once at the same speed, you get a diagonal line. When you turn them both at varying speeds, you get a curve. A circle is the hardest basic shape to etch because it is made up of 4 curves. If you learn to make a circle, you're doing very well, but don't stop there! Once you master the basic shapes, try out drawing your favorite cartoon character. I started with cartoons, and moved to realism.



If you ever get frustrated, remember that like any form of art, etch a sketching takes time and patience. It took me years to get where I am today, but I believe that with determination and passion, you too can master the knobs.



















QuestionsFor the Reader


  1. Do you think there have there been other toys that have sparked and encouraged as much childhood creativity as Etch A Sketch?
  2. If you ever created with an Etch A Sketch did the frustration you experienced trying to draw on Etch A Sketch teach you discipline and practice are important in creating art … or just made you wonder if you had what it takes to be a dedicated artist?
  3. Do you detect a natural evolution from Etch A Sketch to something like Muro?
  4. Do you still own an Etch A Sketch, or was it long ago consigned its fate to that of Citizen Kane’s beloved sled?










When recently asked how his political candidate would explain certain positions taken during the nomination process with contrary positions to be taken during the general election, the campaign chief replied that stated political positions were “like an Etch A Sketch,” -- meaning they could simply be flipped over, erased and begun over from scratch.

Were it that adult life were as simple as a happy Etch A Sketch memory from childhood.

(The campaign chief took heavy heat for his flippant, if truthful, statement.) The incident made me wonder how many of us had early experiences as “sketch artists” with that incredible red toy that has become almost standard issue for so many children still to this day.


Writers: $techgnotic
Designers: $marioluevanos
Featured:
*pikajane
~bryanetch
Cthulhu! by =Sch1itzie
Tribute To Lee Jeffries by ~ronmonroe
crying by ~DanielGrzeszkiewicz
Add a Comment:
 
:icon7-nation-army:
7-Nation-Army Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Student Photographer
That makes sense, i think its an american toy. They still make then though. I know mines definitely not from the sixties :P
Reply
:iconyasmin88:
Yasmin88 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012   General Artist
hehe, it would be awesome to own an antique one from the 60s though :D
Reply
:icon7-nation-army:
7-Nation-Army Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Student Photographer
That would be sweet :)
Reply
:iconcluelessart:
cluelessart Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
I never knew those myself actually, only some kind of similar thing using a sort of magnetic pen. but i dont think tehy were ever popular here in the first place.
Reply
:iconyasmin88:
Yasmin88 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012   General Artist
Same here, I just knew the one with the magnetic pen before...
Reply
:iconzaboo17:
zaboo17 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
Wow; I'm bad at using an etch a sketch, those are very impressive!
Reply
:iconunstableapocalypse:
UnstableApocalypse Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
WOWWWWWWWW *__________* I LIKE IT!!
Reply
:iconathena102:
athena102 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
oh man, i just did this big thing over etch a sketches
Reply
:iconohmy-x:
ohmy-x Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Does anyone remember those toys were they looked kind of like a portable little white board that had a pen attached to them with a string? sometimes they came with little stamps too. The surface of the stamps and the tip of the pen were magnets so when you drew on the screen, these kind of hairy looking grey lines would show up as the pen's ''ink'? There was a little sliding knob at the bottom and if you slid it across the horizontal slot, it would clear all the magnet lines from the screen. Does anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? It was my favourite toy and definitely the one that encouraged the most art.
Reply
:iconquinteels:
Quinteels Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh I remamber those I had one to but I couldent stand that if you draw a line to close to an odder line it would pul some of the pen's "ink" to the newline, and it's broken now (and I lost it samwhere in my home). :nuu:
Reply
:iconamused2bhere:
Amused2bhere Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student General Artist
I think you are talking about a Magna-doodle. I believe it used metals shavings under the white board that were attracted by the magnets in the stylus and stamps, then were wiped away with the clearing slider.
Reply
:iconohmy-x:
ohmy-x Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
yes, that was it. such good fun :)
Reply
:iconkayanya:
Kayanya Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I only knew these ones with stylus and stamps, I never had an etch-a-sketch in my hands (I guess they aren't that common over here)
Reply
:iconnoahsummers:
noahsummers Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh my gosh. I cannot believe I'd forgotten about those. Probably second or third favorite toy as a child. I remember being fascinated when I discovered you could make softer, less pronounced lines by hovering the pen just above the surface of the board. I felt like such a pro, using that for shading my line drawings. :XD:
Reply
:iconohmy-x:
ohmy-x Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Haha, yeah I did the same! Such an advanced technique (;
I remember you could actually make some pretty cool stuff with that thing, if you had the patience.
Reply
:iconpaulinefrench:
PaulineFrench Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This? [link]

I use to play with these all the time! As well as the pink pads where you drew and lifted the plastic when you were done to erase them.
Reply
:iconohmy-x:
ohmy-x Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Yes! I'd forgotten about those! And they were like neon coloured? A local restaurant used to give those out, I loved them.
Reply
:icondevinlorraine:
devinlorraine Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
too amazing!! such patience!
Reply
:iconcatalystofthesoul:
CatalystOfTheSoul Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Being an Etch-A-Sketch artist has to be one of the most complicated and daunting forms of art. I'm very impressed.
Reply
:iconilene-of-astolat:
Ilene-of-Astolat Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012
Those are some amazing works! I applaud the creativity and persistence! I can't even imagine doing that... :heart:
1. Crayons, sidewalk chalk, and paints were definitely mediums that I used heavily. I remember whenever I found out about people creating beautiful sidewalk art or beautiful etch-a-sketch work, I was inspired. Simply because it told me that it could be done. Of course, this was long after I had been using them. ;) Oh and paper dolls! My grandmama and I would play them. We had a huge box of creations.

2. While I never did anything that impressive with an etch-a-sketch, I was determined to get it. Unfortunately, my hands would shake and there would go an hour's work! Coincidentally, it was used mainly in hospitals or long car rides. I was definitely more interested in regular drawing since it was easier to change my drawing as the story in my head evolved.

3. I suppose that there is a connection there... Truthfully, I haven't checked out muro so I don't really know what it is. ^^;

4. I think I misplaced it during the move a few years back.
Reply
:iconfritopie1130:
FRITOpie1130 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
ive never been able to draw even a decent square on etch a sketch. now these guys can do incredible shizz with it. ftw
Reply
:iconchazzvc:
ChazzVC Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Student Digital Artist
etch and sketch.....not for little kids thats for sure, i had one when i was 5, dont think it was mine but i used one for a brief minute and realized "how the hell do i draw something with this and whats the point? its just gonna get erased by someone else...now for the people who found a method to this beast i take my hat off to you :la:
Reply
:iconmangaanimals7:
mangaanimals7 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012
This is amazing.
Reply
:iconlady-lm:
Lady-LM Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
1) Finger painting, crayons on the wall, chalk on the sidewalk. The earliest squiggles of children.

2) I drew with it, but never got inspired to keep doing it.

3) That connection could be made...

4) I never owned one, just used the classroom's or a friend's
Reply
:iconshogunay:
Shogunay Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I loved drawing with etch-a-sketches....
Reply
:icondw817:
dw817 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I know Etch A Sketch made a sketch-version.

[link]

I had one of these years ago.
Reply
:iconsketch-faggot:
SKETCH-FAGGOT Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Student General Artist
Oh articuno you *waves hand very gayly* ...(as to the article tl;dr)
Reply
:iconbamfandblueberry:
bamfandblueberry Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
SPIROGRAPHS.

That is all.
Reply
:iconanimepop18:
AnimePop18 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Etch A Sketch is sooo fun to do! It doen't take much to create a wonder of art using something like this, it was really addicting as a child for me :D :iconetchasketchplz:
Reply
:iconstvnhthr:
stvnhthr Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012
I had the privilege of being in charge of the Etch A Sketch line of toys for two years (even got to correspond with the creator a bit). It was exhilarating to discover so many talented artists still using this creative toy which sadly for most has just become a piece of childhood nostalgia. From these comments I'm wondering if we will soon have a generation of kids who didn't grow up drawing on an EAS but instead doodled with some phone app. Long live the little magic red box!
Reply
:iconiferania:
iferania Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I didn't have one but I would play with one whenever I saw it. Can't remember what I created though! I definitely was into legos, my brother used to teach me how to build transformers out of them...it's probably why I like robots. :D

Other than that, I never really had those type of toys. I was probably more inspired by videogames but whenever I see things like etch a sketch or rubiks cube now a days, I go at it!
Reply
:iconzokiart555:
ZokiArt555 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Delightful!!! :wave: :)
Reply
:iconurbangerbils:
UrbanGerbils Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012   General Artist
I featured an Etch a Sketch in one of my Urban Gerbil strips last Christmas, here's a link to it for all you Etch a Sketch lovers out there! [link]
Reply
:iconfaeorain:
faeorain Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Etch a Sketch was annoying to me mostly because I had the kind of siblings who liked to grab it from my hands mid-sketch and shake it :( I had more fun with Legos, wooden blocks and play-doh. Of course, they would sometimes destroy those creations too, but at least they were not as time consuming as making a detailed drawing on the Etch a Sketch.
Reply
:iconmartinhanford1974:
MartinHanford1974 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Never had an Etch-A-Sketch,or a Magna Doodle but had plenty of those magic drawing doodahs,the one with stylus and you slid them apart to erase it....and countless colouring books,plasticene....
Reply
:iconseizansha:
seizansha Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012
LightBrite! i'd fill the whole screen with rough images and patterns. i still play Legos with my nephews from time to time, making pyramids, ramps and towers for them.

i tried Etch A Sketch drawing but the first mess-up and i'd turn it into a snake, just scribble.
Reply
:iconem-s5:
Em-S5 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Student Photographer
I used to arts and crafts all the time as a child: from painting glass jars, to making things out of pipe cleaners, ornaments....they really do inspire kids and bring out the creative side to them. I think it impacts a child's life greatly...i know it did for me.

I actually never owned an etch a sketch..but I always played with them in the stores or at my friends' house.
Reply
:iconkirisosha:
KiriSosha Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
cool
Reply
:iconi4dezign73:
i4dezign73 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012   Digital Artist
1: Probably agreeing with the masses here - lego and plastercine, later Fimo. Although I went off in a totally different direction and went on to designing cross stitch patterns! (not sure that even counts tbh!) I suppose another one that comes to mind is Spirograph.

2: If I had of relied on Etch A Sketch to convince me whether I could draw, then I'm afraid I wouldn't be here at all! Sadly, I never mastered it all and it often got the better of me!

3: I'm only thinking it would in the pixel art sense. Then again having seen what can be achieved, I believe those at the top of their game using it would tell me different. Never used Muro, so I can't comment

4: If I still do, then I sure don't know about it! I think it ended up in the local charity shop, or even got purchased by a genius, who knows :)
Reply
:iconhitori--sama:
Hitori--sama Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012   Digital Artist
1. When I was a child I used to create things from colored clay. It inspired so much creativity for me.
2. It used to frustrate me when I was younger, but it also made me want to try it again and get it right the second time.
3. Well, I am not entirely certain, though with society being so wrapped up in technology, I think it would be neat to see more artistic apps for tablets and have those by used by the future generation.
4. I actually never owned one. My half brother did, but would never let me play with it, so I only got to use an Etch-A-Sketch when sitting at the dentists office :(
Reply
:iconloyal-scarlet:
Loyal-Scarlet Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Student General Artist
1. The only one I can think of is Legos, which I have created many a work of art out of :^D
2. Definitely discipline and practice... It took me quite a while to accomplish my own drawing of a person on an Etch A Sketch, and it's nowhere near as good as these.
3. I never though of that, but now I can see it.
4. Absolutely! You can't get rid of an Etch A Sketch, it's like one of the fundamental artistic tools!
Reply
:iconkousaichi:
kousaichi Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012
Qick someone do one on the magnetic doodling one!
Reply
:iconkousaichi:
kousaichi Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012
I never had one but never got one. But it looked really fun. I played with it in shops but never understood how to handle it. Looking back when i see an etch, i also am reminded of the joyous times i had with my magnetic doodling board
Reply
:iconjordanthornquest:
jordanthornquest Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This was beautiful. Very inspiring to any artist to see such a unique and trademark style of making art really make such an impact in an artist's life. That analogy bit was excellently written!

1. I loved the Etch-a-Sketch, but never actually had one. For me, it was stuffed animals, and later, video games!

2. A little bit of both. I had seen my older sister and a some other uncles and cousins make some really cool stuff on an Etch-a-Sketch my grandmother had. I could never understand how they could do that, but I kept trying over and over again... Especially to get those curves! Looking at it now, I'm actually really fired up to try and discover the art of these kind of mediums! I've only recently REALLY gotten into understanding art, so it's very exciting. Haha!

3. Totally. In a broader sense, I'd imagine the Etch-a-Sketch really inspired the who pixel-art magic that we started experiencing in programs like Mac Paint and Photoshop. It was a different way of seeing art, and I'd imagine that the self-imposed restrictions really could boost the right brain to think creatively.

4. I've never had one, but I might just buy one now!
Reply
:iconkorineko18:
KoriNeko18 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
I love this entry! I recently picked up my old Etch A Sketch and drew a tree with it! It came out pretty decent.

1. An old toy that I always loved using was Lite-Brite! I loved creating colorful blobs of neon. It was really fun. Of course, another art toy was one of though projection/tracing ones. Although Legos and any sort of building type of toy was also an inspiration for art. Oh! And there were these huge colorful shape blocks that I played with, along with popsicle sticks!

2. The last time I used an Etch A Sketch was very recently, so I knew the determination of an artist. But I do remember that when I was younger and used an Etch A Sketch, I definitely became more interested in creating more art. So I'll go with the latter.

3. Um, I don't really know. I suppose, but I don't use Muro much, and I never really thought about that.

4. I do. The tree I made is still on the screen, as my parents won't allow me to erase it, haha...
Reply
:icontheladyblitzkrieg:
TheLadyBlitzkrieg Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012
Someday i will be able to at least write my name in non chicken scratch on that thing.
Reply
:iconanime4everxd:
Anime4everXD Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Student General Artist
:iconilloveitplz: I still LOVE the Etch-A-Sketch!!! .u. i has one right naow!
Reply
:iconquezecotyl:
Quezecotyl Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Student General Artist
1. Maybe playdo, clay, or legos. The kind of things you can play with that you can make the game, the story, make any possible outcome of your choice. It let's your imagination run. For me it was just my little dolls, action figures and stuff miniature animals.. I'd always make them "actors". :dummy:
2. I guess it really DID contribute to my discipline. But I still need patience; sometimes I still get frustrated when drawing from observation, and that frustration feels similar to that of not being able to get the etch a sketch dot to go where I wanted to. :saddummy:
3. I think Muro is much easier.. With the etch a sketch, you have to sorta memorize which handle is vertical/horizontal (right or left hand) and what naught. But with muro, I use a mouse.. And you have undo, too. They could be related..
4. I still have mine, but it's back home in Jamaica :blush:.. I'd still practice if I had it with me, truly.
Reply
:iconrookieowl:
RookieOwl Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
1. Maybe, not sure I didn't had such an expirience with toys, still I had bunches of plushies
2. Never had one of those, my cousin had one I played with it a few times when little, but I wasn't interested on it much
3. Yeah, it maybe was the funding stone of all this digital art thing
4. I never had one and, as I said, I really didn't had much of an experience with it :shrug:
Reply
:iconsuoish:
Suoish Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Now this guy here is really amazing with an etch a sketch:
[link]
Reply
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