children

rio

Rio 2016- the most authentic Olympic games

For the last couple of months there has been an absolute uproar over Rio being the host of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Even I was against it at first- like many, I raised my fist with the rest and roared: “Say no to bribing! Say no to corruption! Say no to human rights violations! There are people starving while the corrupt politicians and officials make money! It’s disgusting!”

But after seeing the picture of favelas illuminated by the fireworks coming from an Olympic stadium in the background, I changed my mind.

The Rio Olympics represent the cruel reality of our society, of our world really. The games represent the best but also the worst. We cannot protest only when our athletes are not treated right. What about all those people living in poverty, crime and hunger on a daily basis? Why are we not making a bigger deal out of that?

No matter what you hated or loved about the Rio Olympics, at least it was not pretending to be something it was not. It was real, dysfunctional, dangerous, exciting, sad and challenging at the same time. It was not the pink-eyed version of our world, but rather an authentic one. Even athletes, many of which come from destitute backgrounds, gave us their best and their ugliest, their rawest, just like our world really is, in case you forgot.

 

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the old owls tales

The Old Owls’ Tales

Much like humans find wisdom and advice in the tales of the Old Wives, animals have the Old Owl’s knowledge which is widely shared when growing up. These tales were shared with me in the past few months in relaxed, yet intimate conversations with some very lovely owls in an undisclosed location.

Illustrations can be followed on my Instagram account leahrennes (and will be posted on WordPress sometimes too) and they are a celebration of a goal I set only in August of this year and I think have achieved quite well so far.

Before August, I would draw a cow and it looked more like an elephant. After doing the 30-day challenge by Mark Kistler “You can draw in 30 days” book, I not only realized drawing is something that can be taught (and don’t necessarily rely solely upon talent) but I also gained great confidence drawing. Suddenly, I can draw images for my stories which is something I though would be never able to do. Sure, I still need to practice but I have come a long way.

“The Old Owls’ Tales” are a result of the learning process and confidence I gained in the last two months. I hope you enjoy the illustrations and don’t be shy to follow.

And as a slight preview of today’s post- bring an umbrella if you see a worried bunny- according to the Owl tales, it means it is most likely to rain.

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drawing

Every kid is the next Picasso

At the age of 30 something (that’s all you need to know), I have retaken drawing classes determined to learn how to “draw.” And I don’t mean the cookie-cutter classes where you drink wine and paint the same exact thing as the other ten people in the room and your biggest drawing accomplishment is a jejune painting of a dolphin swimming into the sunrise. NO! Real, step-by-step drawing: learning composition, style, foreshortening etc.

Everyone has a story on when they gave up drawing. For most, it’s when you see that one talented kid in class (in my case, Tanya from Russia) who draws anime and nature stills like it is nothing. She was “talented” is what my teacher used to say. Tanya this, Tanya that. Perfect Tanya drawing an elephant 3D. Everyone look at what Tanya drew! TANYA, TANYA!

Needless to say, I am still bitter because of Tanya because she killed drawing for me even though I loved it. I enjoyed it. It was my favorite thing to do. I drew flowers and butterflies and I got lost in the world of colors. But then, the comparison started. Other kids maybe drew a more refined flower. A better looking cow. A more gentle looking ballerina. And then… I started to doubt myself. My sketches did not compare and could not compare to sketched of others, people like Tanya. I stopped drawing and proclaimed myself as talent-less for drawing. I turned it into a joke throughout the years- “I really shouldn’t be drawing, if I draw a cow it looks more like an elephant” stupid type of jokes, belittling my own ability to draw.

Throughout the years I’ve learned how to use computer software to get a desired picture/image etc. But I was never able to draw out my stories. I had the text on the paper, and images in my head. I finally said to myself: enough is enough!

Drawing is all about practice, it’s not about talent. It’s about being tenacious and relentless. Your kid can be the next Picasso. Just don’t let them give up. Because, my dear readers, art is highly subjective (I mean, have you seen any of the weird “modern art?”) Art is being able to express oneself, the form and style we choose is solely our own.

Your child should never give up drawing, because all he/she has to do is to learn proper techniques. In the words of Mark Kistler- like we learn how to write, we can learn how to draw. And that’s absolutely true! Drawing teaches children not only to be creative and imaginative, but that they have to practice to get better and be persistent and passionate about something. And lastly, it can boost their confidence- they are able to create something. How great is that?? So don’t you ever, ever, ever let your child give up drawing! And maybe, you should take a few classes yourself!

Leave comment below, I would like to read about your drawing stories!

If you want to follow my drawing progress, you can follow me on Instagram 🙂 My goal is to be able to illustrate my next children’s book!

P.S: My other books are available on Amazon– find the Rainbow Starfish with Sammie Snorkles or go on a stud abroad to France 🙂 🙂

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The egg of social divison

For those of us who grew up in the States, a Kinder egg, a delicious white and milk chocolate egg, is not a common childhood memory. As a matter of fact, they are forbidden as they contain a little toy which, of course, American children could choke on but European children somehow do not.

Anyway, I had the honor of having my first Kinder egg in Frankfurt, Germany. I was visiting my friend from Bosnia who is now first generation German. Mira opened her palm, and handed me a Kinder egg. “Here, try something very European.” “What’s this?” I asked her. “This was my favorite thing growing up, it’s really good.” I gently unwrapped the plastic around it and indeed, inside it was a chocolate egg. I bit into it and felt something against my teeth. There was a little plastic box that I opened as I chewed on the rest of the chocolate. In it was a toy I had to assemble… it turned out to be a dinosaur.
“Intriguing,” I commented. “Yeah, all the kids here know them. I used to only get them when I was really good, or for holidays- but some kids got them all the time.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Surely they can’t be that expensive.” “Well, I don’t remember how much they were back in the day, but now they cost around 65 cents.” In dollars, I guess that would be roughly 80 cents. More than a hamburger at McDonald’s. “Some kids got them every day. I was always so jealous. It made me realize some parents have more money to spend than others.”

Intrigued as I was by this piece of information, I went home and did some Math. If a child got it 5x a week, that would total to 3.25 euros a week. 13 euros a month. 156 euros a year. That’s roughly 200 dollars on a little piece of chocolate. I could understand how parents that do not make a lot of money couldn’t buy it. With 200 dollars you can buy clothing or shoes or other types of food for your child. And if the kid didn’t get it everyday, it at least became something special….because I am sure the kids who had it every day thought nothing of it.

Did any of you experience this Kinder egg “social division”?

Like, share, comment, tell me your thoughts! I love reading your responses!

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Plain sailing baby-making

Since my Facebook page has been swamped with, no, let me rephrase that….soaked, flooded and overloaded with people who have babies and people who are successfully announcing their pregnancies…. I have to say, looking back on it now, as I kid I thought having a baby was something special. I thought getting pregnant was a special process. It didn’t happen in the back of the car or on the bathroom floor….I guess I thought it was more meaningful than that. And it didn’t happen because two people forgot to use a condom but it happened because they wanted to create a new life. Well, I was quite a naive kid.

It’s bizarre how easily people make babies. People who don’t have their lives together and shouldn’t at all take care of babies, have them in multiples. A little “ooops” there and a “pull out method” here….. and voilà! A brand, new beautiful baby is ready to join us in this world. Isn’t it amazing?

P.S: Thanks for reading my blog, comment and like, dislike and share! 🙂

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