You see limits? I see creativity, so unbounded it is challenging, overwhelming

One of Dimir’s main interests is drawing. Speed drawing I should precise. He draws on simple white sheets of papers, the kind you use for printers. His drawing habit is something of a “brain dump”: he just sits at the table with a thick pile of paper and starts drawing whatever he has in mind. He typically executes a drawing per page in a few seconds, with few uninterrupted gestures. We started to collect all his drawings that quickly proved a daunting task since he makes hundreds of them any single day. So I usually skip through them and scan the most interesting ones.

Sometimes his drawings have minimal details and are extremely schematic. They look meaningless to us, but when I ask him to explain what it is about he always gives a clear description; one that is coherent days after the drawing has been done. Interestingly, we often understand the drawing and “see the point” when he explains it. Here is a whale, for instance.

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At first, you wouldn’t guess. But then, yes of course! It’s the tail of a whale sticking out of the water ! (note he wrote “baléne” in french for “baleine”) I’m also amazed at the technique he uses for colouring. Since he needs to draw fast, colouring in the classical sense is not an option. So he simply indicates the colour of the various parts of the drawing with a single dash of colour (see the blue of the ocean above). That’s fast and conveys the meaning.  Speed is also why, at first, you’d imagine he’s bad at drawing. He sometimes live-draws a whole story (say the Three Little Pigs), telling the story aloud while drawing the various scenes extremely quickly. In these circumstances he can only be schematic and does not like to being interrupted. Understanding what he is trying to achieve explains a lot. At first, you wouldn’t guess. But then, yes of course! It’s the tail of a whale sticking out of the water ! (note he wrote “baléne” in french for “baleine”) I’m also amazed at the technique he uses for colouring. Since he needs to draw fast, colouring in the classical sense is not an option. So he simply indicates the colour of the various parts of the drawing with a single dash of colour (see the blue of the ocean above). That’s fast and conveys the meaning.  Speed is also why, at first, you’d imagine he’s bad at drawing. He sometimes live-draws a whole story (say the Three Little Pigs), that is telling the story loudly while drawing the various scenes extremely quickly. In these circumstances he can only be schematic and does not like to being interrupted. Understanding what he is trying to achieve explains a lot.

  •  Seems like he does not draw well or intelligible things? He cannot colour images? Not at all. He draws fast because each drawing is a quick brain dump of something he sees. He can draw movies, almost frame by frame. Try to do that with 5 seconds per image only.
  • He gets angry  when you interrupt him while he is “in his world”? No and stop thinking he is “in his world”. His world is ours. He just sees it in a slightly different way and often he’s not allowed to experience it the way he wants, just because we don’t understand what he’s doing. Again he is busy at a challenging and important task that requires all his attention. If you wait a bit, he’s happy to interact. I’d react the same if super busy at something important and complex, like proving a theorem.

Here are two successive panels from the Three Little Pigs, done in a matter of seconds really (top: the three little pigs talk about their respective houses, bottom: close-up on one of the characters explaining something).three little pigs.png

But he also does very detailed scenes, with multiple interacting characters and clear sense of motion. I am particularly fascinated by how he renders emotions. Here is a character sick in bed.

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Notice the facial expression. Not bad for a kid who’s supposed to struggle at identifying emotions on one’s face, no?

Here is a scene where the teletubbies go to a party. One is on a scooter, another one holds a balloon, the last one holds a bag. There is a windmill in the distance.

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Here is a happy farmer, driving his happy tractor.

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And the little Ogre relaxing at the beach.

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Here are two poor little pigs whose house has been blown away by the wolf. It’s funny he often draws pigs like in “Angry Birds”.

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The poor piggies are scared shitless as you can clearly see below (they’re watching the wolf through a window).

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Conclusion? If you actually take the time to observe and understand him, you realise – and that would apply to so many challenged kids – that there is much more than meets the eye. I’ve seen reports by so-called educators calling his drawings “very simple” or “schematic” for his age. Now with a bit of context, it is easy to see this not because of any cognitive delay. He’s just a freaking supersonic Picasso. And supersonic because, as always, his brain is running on all cylinders, generating images, links between images will suddenly trigger memories and therefore new images. In microseconds.

You see limits? I see creativity, so unbounded it is challenging, overwhelming. It eats up space and time and no one helps. It has no limits.

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