Studio MPL & the Art of the Imaginary Friend

Jayce's imaginary friend is named Louis. She created him using randomly drawn attributes.

Jayce’s imaginary friend is named Louis. She created him using randomly selected attributes.

Studio MPL—Mentor Library’s art club for kids—flexed their artistic muscles by drawing their own imaginary friends on Monday, March 16.

The young artists drew inspiration from The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat, which MPL children’s associate Lisa Layton read to them. The 2015 Caldecott Award-winning book tells the story of a young who creates an imaginary friend.

“The story has so much depth and meaning,” Ms. Lisa said. “So we peeled back the layers of the story through the artwork. At first, the kids see a blobby character. With a second look at the illustrations, it becomes clear that Beekle is a sheet of paper. The story is a metaphor about how an author and illustrator come together to create a story.”

Mira draws her imaginary friend, Max.

Mira’s imaginary friend, Max, has a blue head, pumpkin body and big smile.

The kids then created their own imaginary friends. These new friends had fur, claws, top hats, pumpkin bodies and many more fantastical details.

“Cool moment, because the kids wanted to talk about them,” Ms. Lisa said. “Their imaginary friends were so vibrant and important to them.”

Finally, the kids worked in groups to create a second imaginary friend.  They suggested different attributes: purple eyes, a fur coat, likes to sing, and so on. Then, the kids randomly picked from the compiled attributes and used them to draw imaginary friends.

Layton explained that the exercise serves two purposes: one, it encourages artists to work together (like a writer and illustrator) and, two, the random suggestions can serve as a cure for artist’s block.

Rosa and Taryn

Rosa and Taryn work together to create imaginary friends.

Studio MPL meets on the third Monday of each month. If your kid likes art—any kind of art—they can join the fun!

Next month’s session will be April 20 at our Main Branch. You can register for it here.

For more photos from our Studio MPL session, check out our Facebook page. For more information on programs and events for children, teens and adults at Mentor Public Library, visit our online event calendar.

Rose makes a rainbow background for her imaginary friend.

Rose makes a rainbow background for her imaginary friend.

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