Fotografia mea
Plymouth, United Kingdom
CHILDREN'S BOOK ILLUSTRATOR AND ART-TEACHER .................................................................................................... A Decorative Arts and Design graduate with experience in art-teaching and children’s book illustration. Proven professional record of teaching art in prestigious schools in my hometown, and also illustrating for publishers and personal projects. I started as an very important co-worker as an illustrator when I was a student at the National University of Arts, Bucharest and comic artist for Romanian children’s magazines, Luminita and Cutezatorii.

04 decembrie 2013

Article presented at
International Conference "ICT for Language Learning" 6th Edition, Florence, Italy



The Design Club started four years ago with the application of a master-disciple learning partnership within an extracurricular book illustration activity at the Carmen Sylva Art School in Ploiesti, Romania. If the beginning was rather painful, with difficult twists in creating the Renaissance-style effective relationship between an expert teacher and the novices, the following steps brought about remarkable progress towards autonomous learning.  Nowadays, the members of the Club manage orders from the educational book market and the teacher only offers online coaching.
Our paper will firstly contrast two perspectives: the art school and curricula that value individualism, isolation and a submissive student; and a new approach that highlights a broader, integrated perspective in the Facebook era where students naturally – and virtually - interact for learning, explore other types of beauty and discover connections between the verbal and the visual codes. Secondly, we will present results from the Design Club activity that relate to various educational projects in which the Art students manage to understand the communication needs of younger students and consequently develop innovative materials to sustain the quality language learning of the latter. Thirdly, we will draw conclusions on how our transdisciplinary initiative changed the students’ focus, gave them confidence to pursue a career in book illustration, brought meaning to their learning and opened them to reflect on how communication and learning are stimulated on a page.
Last but not least, our paper shows how ICT allowed the members of the Club to share experiences, to promote their work and to become increasingly autonomous.

Key words: learning partnership, verbal and visual communication, autonomous learning


...Once upon a time there was a young Art teacher who came to teach in the same Art High School she had graduated from 10 years before. She was not experienced, the high school brought back insecurities from the time she was a student there, when she felt unsupported and marginalized for her tastes in “minor” arts. Yet she was committed to do something meaningful for the students, to share from her experiences as an independent illustrator. She was willing to at least try to teach them more than complying to the textbook. She wanted them to find fulfillment in their talents and not frustration. Above all, she wanted to offer them support for them to find a personal way on the art market. In the midst of her uncertainties about what kind of teacher she would like to become and the students’ superficial attitude towards school and art she looked for answers in the literature, among other teachers and in talking with her classes. This is how the idea of a Design Club came into being. The Club was planned as an extracurricular activity to give some meaning to the students’ scribbling, where to exercise and talk about comics, illustrations, design. The work in the club was inspired by Gardner’s Art’s PROPEL project and the approach to learning within the master-disciple relationship [1], the social dimension of learning [2, 3, 4], renewed cognitive structures as shaped by the extensive use of ICT [5,6]...
This is how our story started back in 2009. It was not easy at all. We got confronted with a lack of space and materials, many attacks from traditional teachers, who did not understand what we were doing and just felt threatened by a change, and, the most painful of all, no support from our school management. Yet, we kept going and we started to have success [7]. A primary teacher was the first one to support the Design Club, and then few others, mostly young teachers, joined in. Thus is how we got the first “orders” from the clients. They were for free but they brought meaning to what the Club members were doing.
After the first year, the Club put together an amazing Comics Exhibition and had two outstanding projects in collaboration with our supportive primary teacher. What came next was extraordinary. Students of all ages were following our activity on the internet, they were speaking about our club in school, asking what we were preparing next. Many more wanted to be part of the club, and we even had to make a very serious selection of our members. The present members of the club are not only talented, but devoted, committed, motivated and hard working. We started to have out first projects with publishers and the students could learn how to negotiate for their work on the market. They gradually went deeper into understanding what the clients need so that they could better meet their requirements. 

Traditional curriculum vs. new curriculum

There is a quite frequent question we can all hear from teachers today: "Is school preparing our students for real life?". When Art teachers in Romania were themselves students they were not at all encouraged to reflect on their learning. They were taught according to a strict curriculum, based on art techniques, with little (if any) relevance for contemporary art production. As for Art education and methodology no specific training was offered besides general pedagogy and a theoretical background the student teachers were supposed to reproduce in a traditional pencil and paper exam.
Art education in Romania remains old fashioned. Its curriculum is based on individualism and isolation; it is about neutral, decontextualized teaching instead of relating to the students and finding metaphors or stories to make concepts easier to grasp; it is about passing information and not really informing; it favours judging, not encouraging. It is never interested in ICT and new forms of beauty, other than the ones in the textbook. Everything else is labeled as kitsch. And yet, in the Facebook era, beauty gains new insights [8]. Open and faster communication features other approaches and definitely a new curriculum. At the Design Club, the curriculum got shaped by our questions and selections. The teacher chose not to teach content but her students. And thus our partnership started to bloom and integrate education in the Facebook Era. Students have been encouraged to use their ICT skills and their interest in interacting online.
Today’s youth appreciate mostly visual information and minimum of effort, even if we like it or not. Fortunately, ICT can make our work easier. Why would we say "No"?
The curriculum of the Design Club facilitates the access of the students to exploration and discovery, makes use of technology as a tool, and places learning in a real life context. The new curriculum is presenting the world the way it is, is opening the door of self discovery and is giving to our students the choice of who they want to become. Will they know what to choose? The lack of experience is often pushing our students to choose wrongly from this endless space of information, so they really need us as advisers, or coaches, or tutors.

High school students illustrating for primary pupils

A very powerful context for learning is when students do something for other students as they are able to notice the immediate effects of their endeavour. In our case, everything started with the collaboration between the members of the club and a primary teacher. On this occasion, the high school students could see how primary pupils reacted in front of their work. If in the beginning the pupils were not very interested in the Club's activity, after a few projects together, they were curious to see our next artworks, and they began to show a huge respect for us. Our last project together was their end of term assembly, when the high school students supported the pupils with the props and the face-painting for their play. It was a chance for all of them to interact, this time as partners.
In the beginning of 2011 the Club got involved in a very challenging project initiated by UNICEF Romania. We were asked to produce some drawings that might help students at risk to express themselves in Language classes. More than 15 drawings were accepted by the editor of the UNICEF project and were distributed in the education priority areas of the project. The impact was very good and the target was attained. The Club’s drawings drew attention, asked for a reaction, made students talk and relate to the visuals.
Later on, the club had the opportunity to illustrate some text books for high school juniors, in collaboration with Art Publishing House, Bucharest. Then, the Club started a prolific collaboration (still in progress today) with Sigma Publishing House (the members illustrating Sigma's projects for the reception class i.e. big books on nonconventional stories and other resources, at a time when the Club’s tutor had to leave and work in the UK. Nevertheless the Club survived and developed. The tutor is still their tutor but in a new stage of the autonomous learning progress as she only offers couching online.
This idea brings benefits for both parties, young illustrator and primary pupils, because it is a fortune for the members of the club to experiment and to improve their skills, but in the same time a privilege for young children to have inspirational books animated by someone just a few years older, with fresh memories about how it is to be a child. Who can understand better children, than children?
For the young illustrators it was an interesting opportunity to share the room with primary pupils. In this way they were compelled to find out the young pupils’ honest opinion about their personal artwork and even to collaborate with them. For primary pupils it was a great lesson to see the senior students at work. They have learned to appreciate and recognize hard work and real talent, but also meet authentic role models.
Another ongoing project of the Club is to illustrate a variety of learning activities for primary education for the website  www.infinit-edu.ro . They drew mascots according to the instructions given by primary students, They drew for the site slider in order to have the attention of the users according to specific events for every season. They made drawings to illustrate practical ideas for which there are no photos available - for example the Museum of the books in the classroom. Since such a place is not real but there is an image for it, primary pupils are invited to describe it verbally and then to proceed at developing it. The result? Great fun and good communication skills!
The students from the Club also made drawings of beloved characters from famous stories the children listened to. The latter were then asked to compare what they see in the image with they heard of in the story. In Fig. 1  there are some of these illustrations.

The technology as a learning language

It is easy to see that students' communication with their teacher can break the barriers of traditional education and demonstrate the efficiency and many advantages of the use of technology as learning language.
Our virtual activities started in 2010 during the summer holiday, which in Romania is 3 month long, too long even from the students' perspective! Before the end of the term, we had two goals: to put together a comics magazine and to advertize our club and the magazine on the internet. So we decided to work in two teams. One was responsible with the comics magazine and the other with designing a website, a blog and a Facebook page. We had no time to finish before the end of the school year, due to all the final exams and tests, so we decided to continue during the summer holiday, on the internet. We have been on messenger, Facebook and on the phone all summer. We have even met twice in the park for fruitful brainstorming. We had the projects all ready by September, which was tremendous. Throughout the process, the social media has helped us build a strong relationship. All our work from the summer 2010 helped us to promote the Club, to continue our work outside the school and to strengthen our master-disciple partnership. Then back in 2011 when the teacher left the school to work in the UK, the internet was a powerful tool to keep us together and also a way to support students to become autonomous in their design work.
We find the internet very useful, because this virtual space can give to educators the opportunity to communicate with their students privately, in small groups or publicly to debate a subject that cannot be discussed in the classroom for lack of time or other reasons. A conversation on the internet encourages the shy student to speak up, offers access to a huge and amazing library and also the opportunity to go back and re-read the discussions.
In a time and age when adults complain about the youth’s lack of motivation for school matters, teachers can nonetheless have the students' attention by using their weapons/tools, by surprising them with ICT tricks and ideas, and leave behind all the stereotypes, judgments and traditional patterns.
In our own experience, the new technology is definitely efficient and brings about numerous advantages for the learning process. There is a secret though: to plan lessons as if there is no information-based reason around.
When students are given interesting projects, and are let know what is expected from them, they can search/research for ideas and be subtly convinced to reflect about their activity. In our specific case, we treat our projects very seriously. Consequently they become authentic and part of our real world. The teacher speaks to her students from a commissioner's or client's point of view, bringing always arguments for all remarks and putting them in "real life situations".


Nowadays, the members of the Club manage orders from the educational book market. They have built not only amazing portfolios, but self-esteem as well. If at the start just one member was wishing to become an illustrator, today the situation is reversed. All but one decided to study illustration or graphic design at the university, or to explore the field of book illustrations as students.
The current members of the Club are already students or graduated students of the National University of Arts in Bucharest; others are still students at the "Carmen Sylva" Art High School in Ploiesti, Romania. However, all members are really active in terms of art, and they had book illustration projects with Romanian editors and publishers.
Today, the club's members are working independently, the teacher only offering online coaching.
They are supporting each other and they are also sharing information and ideas about future collaborations. They became good companions, close friends, strong and confident about the future, working hard for a career in a field that did not exist in their plans before 2010.
On the other hand, their clients – young students and their teachers from primary school or low secondary school – have had a powerful visual tool, which was developed according to their needs, Our drawings supported their oral expression and motivation for learning. 80% of the students who worked with the big books we designed ranked them at the top of their favourites. The primary teachers we worked with in order to illustrate a variety of communication prompts have all been very satisfied with the results.
What matters most is that the Art students who are members of the club have learned the ”craft” of book illustration and art design in a meaningful way – by addressing the needs of clients who find more context for their reading if visuals facilitate the process. The fact that clients are younger students and that the Art students design projects met the children’s communicative projects is a remarkable situation of a win-win on the education market!


[1]   Gardner, Howard (2006) Multiple Intelligences. New Horizons, New York: Basic Books
[2]   Allen, R.H. (2002) Impact Teaching, Boston: Allyn and Bacon
[3]   Bruner, J.S. (1983) In Search of Mind, New York: Harper and Row
[4]  Gagnon, J.G., Collay, M. (2001) Designing for Learning, Thousands Oaks Ca: Corwin Presss
[5] Veen, Wim, Vrakking, B. (2006) Homo Zappiens. Growing up in a digital age. London: Network Continuum
[6] Ito, M. et al (2010) hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out. Kids Living and Learning with New Media, Cambridge: MIT Press
[7] Nitu, L. (2011) The Design Club: an Extracurricular Activity for Art Students and a Master-disciple Learning Partnership, in Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 11/ 2011, pp. 27-31
[8] Gardner, H. (2011) The Truth, the Beauty and the Good. Educating for the Virtues in the 21st Century, New York: Basic Books
We would like to thank Daniela Stoicescu for her confidence in the Design Club and for constantly involving us in new educational editorial projects that make us known among various publishers and school practitioners.

31 iulie 2013

The Illustration Club at the The International Conference "Teachers for the Knowledge Society" Sinaia Romania 2011 as THE DESIGN CLUB

The Design Club    by prof. Laura Nitu

The paper presents the results of a research into an extracurricular activity for Art students, which we call The Design Club. This involves a master-disciple learning partnership intended to improve the traditional relationship between the Art teacher and her students. The main aims of the club are to encourage talented teenagers to practice the techniques of book illustration and to learn how to make public their works. The club also promotes a social dimension of learning – the students come together and have the opportunity to discuss and support one another even if finally their products remain individual ones.
© 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Keywords: learning partnership; master-disciple;  extracurricular activity;  art education; book illustration
Book illustration is hardly a focus of the Art Education curriculum in Romania, this particular domain being rather marginal in the Art teachers’representations as well. Nevertheless, some Art students have the potential to develop their graphic skill. I always propose some design exercises to the students at the beginning of the term and each year I can see some very good work. Actually, Art students can be seen quite often drawing comics or cartoons. They do it without any clear purpose, they do it without guidance, in isolation. Some of their results are exceptional and yet nobody in the Art highschool takes it into account.     
This is how I came to the idea to support the students’ talent and interests by inviting them to an extracurricular activity that focuses on the practice of the techniques of book illustration. My intention was to gather in a club those who are interested in drawing, to challenge them with exercises that stimulate creativity but also with topics they would have never worked on without the advice of an expert.
Besides the training in book illustration, the Design Club also tries to solve some other problems that the young  participants face. These are old problems in Art Education in Romania and nobody seems interested to solve them as it is more comfortable to forget about it. I faced these problems myself when I was a student in the same school where I am teaching now. I understand very well my students’ expectations, questions and needs. Not long ago I was ruminating on them from the teenager perspective.  The youth that are enrolled in Art school lack confidence, are demotivated, quite often approach Art in a superficial way, are afraid of failure, and above all they are not taught about the importance of a portfolio with personal works and sketches. All these are connected with the little involvement of the Art teachers in the actual development of their students. The teachers do not have a vision for their students’ future. What they are doing after graduation is not a matter of concern, generally speaking.
I decided not to ignore the “state of the arts” and to support my students. I considered a different type of relationship that could inspire both of us. With my experience as a book illustrator I could try to help them become more than real artists but independant, responsible, disciplined and target-oriented personalities as well.
That was the starting point of the Design Club and of the research the partial results of which are presented here.

The foundations of the Club
The participants at the club (and the target group of my research) are 15-17 year olds who showed interest in book illustration, chose to join the club and who belong to all the three specializations of our vocational Art Highschool, that is Music, Visual Arts, Architecture. They are all very gifted but the school they attend is more interested in preserving its traditions than in reorienting towards contemporary trends. This is how the students  become demotivated and quite superficial. My first goal besides the technical solution of persuading them to develop portfolios – like real artists, was to find ways to encourage them to go deeper into their skill and talents.
The theory of the multiple intelligences (MI) and the more recent developments regarding the ‘five minds’ (Gardner, 2004, 2006, 2007) helped me with valuable insight. The readings from Gardner made me to admit that Romanian Art Education lacked purpose. Parents and teachers persuade the students to choose the Art School but nobody thinks of what they can do with their competence later on. Students are not encouraged to reflect on this issue. Instead of training genuine artists, who can benefit from the niches in the society and create cultural assets as well as cultivate a public for their Art, the present education just provides a technicist training. There is no perspective for life outside the school walls. The teachers themselves are technicians when they come to class and they ask the students to obediently repeat a technique.
When I started teaching in the Art School I knew for sure that I do not want to be that kind of teacher. Yet, until the beginning of the Design Club I couldn’t name the exact type of teacher I desired to be for my students. The planning for an extracurricular activity reminded me of the Renaissance apprenticeship model. Artistry had been learned like that for centuries and it was successful both in terms of technical acquisition and artistic value (Gardner, 2006). The Design Club could reinvent such apprenticeship and my research could document our changes. My statement of the study became the following: The constant support offered by the expert illustrator propels the disciples towards recognition of their talent and results.
I view this relationship as a learning partnership where both sides have the opportunity to progress in remarkable ways. When I stepped into this partnership I started to reconsider my schemes of thinking – I was no longer just an artist by myself – but one who needed to adapt to the needs of the disciples (otherwise the latter could quit the club!). The students who turn into disciples try to better know their master’s craft, attempt at doing something similar in a global sense not just like nowadays when they repeat a technique. The ‘master’ is an artist with a developed personality which is not hidden from the ‘apprentices’. The transfer is not merely technical but an interconnection comprising various issues, the esthetic and ethical values included.
Values are fairly important but we tend to marginalize them in school because we do not know how exactly we can deal with them in the absence of the authoritarian inculcation. At the club we have the courage to talk about our choices and deal with the issues that concern values.
Last but not least, as a ‘master’ I am tuned with each individual who comes at the club. The special relationship we develop makes me to apply an individualized approach for book illustration, which is adapted to individual-artists-to-be. This important feature of the methodology at the Design Club involves a flexible planning within the theoretical framework of the illustration as it is understood and agreed upon by the experts in the field.
The book illustration is meant to explain or to be complementary to a text, sometimes highlighting some parts of the text, but it is always influenced by the personality and the interpretation of the artist (Brown 1958, Carneci, 1981). The artist can retell the information in the text in a descriptive way or s/he can improve it by adding a personal touch to it, while tempting the imagination of the receiver. The illustration can also be extremely decorative, without a clear connection to the text as such but by enriching the reception of the reader. Whether the illustration is literary, scientific, didactic or for entertainment purposes, it is always in an interdisciplinary connection. The illustrator needs to understand the domain that s/he is illustrating and also to operate with communication competence both visually and verbally. At this point, book illustration represents a generous topic that relates naturally to an MI-based approach and to the educational trend that pleads for integrated perspectives in the class.
In order to keep track of my study about the partnership’s benefits and to check the statement mentioned above I use a research diary of our face to face meetings that are scheduled every other day and use observation grids for the students’work during the class sessions as well as for the analysis of their drawings and of their developing portfolios. During the observation of the learning process within the club my criteria refer to interpersonal communication and its role for building my students’ confidence. One of the assets of the Club is the group discussion about the text meanings, the choice of techniques, the impact on the receiver. I assume (but I need to prove) that the work at the club develops communication among students that are trained to work in isolation and that communication builds their positive self  as future artists. The analysis grid for the portfolio is intended to mark the progress they make in the illustration competences as shown in the passage from one drawing to another. Contrary to the traditional view that only the final – perfect! – work is worth keeping I’m trying to raise my students’awareness about their learning acquisition by the recording of all the intermediate products, in the sense of a “processfolio” (Gardner, 2006).

Work in the Design Club
      The first steps in the club were taken in order to encourage an ongoing communication among us (between the face to face sessions) as well as the promotion of our work. Consequently during the summer months of 2010 I worked along with a few IT experts to develop our site. The students’ effort to work some extra time beyond the compulsory curriculum needed to be publicised, so we thought of starting an online magazine with illustated texts. So far the site was successfully launched, but the magazine is still a draft.
      Among the first steps, I could also count my thorough planning and the lobby in the school to obtain support from the principal – mainly an adequate environment for our Club meetings. In both directions I was not very successful. To the present we still lack a space of our own. We need to go into a classroom where the young students are out for PE. Their belongings are on the desks and moreover they come back after 50 minutes and for the last part of our club meeting (which is scheduled for two hours) we move into another classroom the occupants of which go to the Computer Room for their IT class. This is quite unconfortable.
    As far as the planning is concerned – In the beginning of the “club work” I planned a lot and also made a lot of mistakes. It is well known that every start is difficult! The first official meeting of the Club was the result of such a planning miscalculation. I suggested them to do an illustration of the 10th Sonnet of Michelangelo. I started with this piece of literature because Michelangelo is a total artist who changes so easily the representational codes in his art. He was meant to be an inspiration for the future book illustrator. Secondly, my choice was motivated by the generous nature of poetry when it comes to visual interpretation. Thirdly, I love poetry. My miscalculation was that my students do not exactly have a taste for it.  I was also surprised they ignored the meanings of some of the words in the poem. I had planned that first session by the point of view of the traditional teacher who looks to her students by the binoculars of her personality, likes and dislikes. Nevertheless the club discussions on the text analysis, the look at the Renaissance art in albums  supported the students in coming closer to what I intended to do and some of the drawings they did were quite good. Yet I was very unsatisfied and shared with my final dissertation supervisor about the shortcomings of the first club event. The discussion with another type of a “master” mobilised me to go through the planning again and came up with a story for the next meeting.
    Full of renewed hope, I read them the beginning of The Prince and the Pauper by making use of adequate intonation. I shared from my experience as book illustrator by giving a speech about the illustration’s composition, and layout. I told them the illustration should not tell the story but offer the reader a reason to meditate upon as well as a reason to admire the craft of the illustrator. Here is a part of the dialogue we had during the “Prince” meeting:
“Teacher: What is the fragment about? Who is it about?
Student 1: About two boys...
Student 2: I’d rather say it’s just one
Student 1: Well, there’s the prince and there’s the pauper
Student 2: Sure. But it’s as if someone had a first look in the mirror of a lake and observed himself with the eyes of the other
Student 1: Humm. That’s rather philosophical, don’t you think?
Teacher : Well, what do you think we are? As artists are we imitators of the reality or interpreters of it?
Student 1: Humm…”
      They liked this idea of them being interpreters of the world. They seemed very thoughtful. We talked for an hour about the role of illustration. They made some drawings but very few caught my attention. My students had started to be reflective but they were still inhibated, they were not exactly in the right mood to create original ideas. I was happy though because I had managed a breakthrough. (see Fig. 1 below).

Fig. 1 The first breakthrough – The Prince and the Pauper

     The first month at the Club was full of ups and downs. All of them surprised me. These surprises do say something about my adjusting to the ‘master’ status. The diary helped me a lot to reflect on “the surprise” and to find a positive interpretation of it plus some added value for my research.
     An interesting discussion about the results of the club is the attitude and skill of the ‘master’. What is a master in this respect? An expert artist who can share from his/her experiences? The fourth and fifth meetings of the Club brought two complementary answers to my question.
We had decided to participate as a group to an exhibition on the topic The text(ures) of the postmodern city. Our work is supposed to be a visual essay about the postmodern city, about the street sensitivity. For more flavour at the club I had invited Liviu Ghituleasa, one of the organizers of the event and a very opened and relaxed teacher to explain the objectives of the exhibition to my students. I had hoped this will stir their interest, make them curious but they received him with silence. Only after Liviu left the classroom, had they started to ask questions. The sophisticated language that expert had used made them feel inferior. They actually couldn’t understand very well what was all about and they were quite fearful about being involved in that experiment-exhibition. Liviu Ghituleasas is definitely an expert but when he came to the club he did not manage to be the least of a “master”.
The second answer came soon after, again in the context of an art event. We visited The European BD exhibition in Bucharest in October 2010 and we participated in the workshop of Olivier Grenson, a very gifted and famous Belgian comics artist. And a ‘master’ as I soon could observe. The club members were thrilled about the exercises he did with them. Some of the students had brought their portfolios along and they could show to Olivier how talented they are. The dialogue between the artist and the students was extremely profitable, he encouraged them and praised one of the girls for her portfolio. Olivier also had the patience to correct some of the works of my students. He gave them the same items of advice I did. He told them they need to practice drawing, use the axes and do sketches. He also told them to thoroughly read and look for complementary information before they draw and also to use photographs during the work so that they keep to the truth when they represent scenes, objects, attitudes, persons...
The encounter with Olivier was a great step forward for the club partnership – for the students it was good to work with a recognised artist who earns a living from his art. For me it was a good lesson of ‘mastership’. Explaining is good but involving everyone in the practical excercise all in the same time is far better. When we got back from the European exhibition we remade one of the Belgian artist’s exercises – create a character, first from a frontal perspective and then from different other perspectives. The results were fine and discussion and attitude were excellent. We could even face the Postmodern Text(ures) project with different eyes. The students came out with interesting ideas about it.
After a new replanning on my behalf, our last experience at the club dealt with the schoolbook illustration. I had realised the club started quite awkwardly as I had not involved them first in illustration for books from their immediate environment. I had rather put them into the shoes of the adult which obviously they were not. Consequently we looked at some Romanian and French textbooks, we discussed the illustrations and identified mistakes. We tested some representations for books in the primary education by trying to put ourselves in the place of the young readers. This was the first topic they really enjoyed. I could see their interest and commitment to do a good job. And the results indeed were good since they had the opportunity to make something useful and admired by adults.
The Club participants got involved in designing the setting for the 4 graders’ end of term play. We had an initial discussion and then they did the job. They did it autonomously and enthusiastically, by improvising when they fixed the set - so it should fit better – like genuine artists. I could not be present when the event took place, but here is the account from one of the students:  “The class teacher insisted that we stay and introduced us as our friends from the Design Club who did this extraordinary set. We received a great applause. And later the students, the teachers and the parents - they all praised us. This was cool. We are not very used to praises and it feels good. I loved it.”  The ‘extraordinary set’ was the fruit of excellent teamwork, a lot of endeavour (they spent twelve hours during two afternoons) and self-confidence. It was also a good promotion for the Club. We even received an offer – to paint the walls of the classroom where the play took place. The class teacher was thrilled with the students’ talent in illustrations for children and since the next school year she will take 1st graders she invited us during the summer holidays to decorate the classroom!

Conclusions – The Club is still on
The learning partnership we are building is a challenging experience that requires a lot of perseverance. It is not easy to be a ‘master’. The quick response I had when I saw Olivier at work and my desire to do the same shows I am a good ‘disciple’, or maybe just a more advanced one as compared to my students. My study so far does not contradict my hypothesis – it shows that the relationship, the perspective on learning and the practical experience together do motivate the students. The Design Club is visited on a regular basis by non-member students who are curious about what we are doing; the IT teacher is also a regular visitor and we will try a cooperation; we have an offer from a class teacher; the atmosphere is pleasant and students feel safe to create originally and to share their work as well as albums and other sources; the online activity is growing; there are Art teachers in the school who encourage our experiences, talk to the students and praise their work. There are some who criticise my initiative which they call “kitsch”.
As the strengths are far “stronger” than the “weaknesses” in our partnership, the club is still on and works well.  My study will continue at least to the end of the academic year when I am to present the results in my dissertation for the master degree. But my hope is this research is just one step in an ongoing partnership.

I express my gratitude towards my former highschool colleagues Irinel Ditu and Stefan Buturuga who supported me in developing the site of the Club. A big thank you goes to my students Andrei Ionut Carpen and Ioana Dragomir who worked along me during the summer holidays to make the site of the club functional.
Last but not least I thank all of my students who support me become a valuable part in a learning partnership

Brown, Marcia (1958)  Distinction in Picture Book, in Dalphin, M., Vigures R-H, Miller, B. Illustrators of children’s books 1946-1956 , Boston: The Horn Book INC.
Cârneci, Magda (1981)  The Book Illustration  (in Romanian) in Art nr. 9/ 1981
Gardner, Howard (2005)  The Disciplined Mind (in Romanian) Bucuresti: Sigma
Gardner, Howard (2006) Multiple Intelligences. New Horizons (in Romanian) Bucuresti: Sigma
Gardner, Howard (2007) Five minds for the future (in Romanian) Bucuresti: Sigma

06 iunie 2013


  ILLUSTRATION CLUB "scribbles in a drawer" was founded in 2009 
by Professor Laura Nitu, aka Chang, creator of the comic itself and
children book's illustrator, who wanted to support young artists
 concerned with scribbling.

  In 2011, Chang's departure left the club with no adequate support, 
so all the activities moved to the warm and welcoming world of the
Internet, where Chang was able to continue to sustain the faithful
members of the Club.

  The friendship between Chang and the club members is blooming.
  The club lost a few members, but gained some new ones, 
more prolific and more skilled.

   The current members of the Club have impressive CVs  and 
portfolios. Some of them are already students at the
National University of Arts in Bucharest, others have just graduated
High School and intent to study art in Bucharest or abroad, others
 are still students at the Art High School "Carmen Sylva" in Ploiesti.

   All current members of the club are active in terms of art, and they
had book illustration projects with known Romanian editors and

  Today the club members are working on their own, but they are 
supporting each other and they are also sharing information about
future collaborations.

   If you need an illustrator and want to collaborate with one or more
members of the Club, please do not hesitate to post your ads on 
the club's Facebook page:
Clubul de Ilustratie "Sertarul cu mazgaleli"
or send an email to: changtextilista@yahoo.com.

Thank you very much!