An education in a physical world

A gift of touch.

Cat S
6 min readMay 11


I’ve missed you, kitty.
Welcome back to our playground.

Have you been maintaining a sense of play in your own space?
Or have you come back to get some inspiration, some boost, some spark?

watercolour & ArtGraf sketch by Cat S. | CC-BY-NC-SA

How did you celebrate the new year?

I hope you grabbed every opportunity for a time to play–in order to fail, to learn and to touch.

Doing those three are the best way we learn individually at CatsArtSchool. In our playground we have the freedom to fail and with that comes new learning and an appreciation for our sense of touch. That’s what we’re going to talk about today, kitty.

TOUCH–the underrated sensory input.

graphite pencil sketch by Cat S. | CC-BY-NC-SA

We spend an inordinate amount of time using our sense of sight and hearing for entertainment.

We usually forget that we can make use of our sense of touch for the exact same purpose. This is not a surprise considering the amount of digital media we consume–to listen to music, to play games, to watch videos, to read information, to look at photos and share our thoughts. All of which are very entertaining, up to a certain point.

watercolour sketch by Cat S. | CC-BY-NC-SA

You see why most of us don’t bother ? it sounds physical !

It requires movement from point A to point B, it’s going to make you do things on your own and it means leaving what you already know and exploring what you don’t know.

This is the opposite of consuming–to play music, to create an obstacle game for yourself, to draw, to paint, and to use your hands to create and tinker with three-dimensional objects. Those are all physical activities that interact with things–things that weren’t born to follow your command. When you engage in physical activities, your range of control is limited by nature, matter and energy.

Now how does that feel, kitty ?
It feels like living in reality !

watercolour & ArtGraf sketch by Cat S. | CC-BY-NC-SA

That’s where our playground is located–a physical place.

It’s a real space, but it’s your space–a corner in your room, a room in the house or some place outside your house. If you can stand on it and make a mess in it, that’s your playground.

But it’s a precious space that needs to be kept alive. So clean up afterwards kitty ! this will keep us coming back.

Now that we’ve distinguished our playground from any other imaginary thing, now we can truly appreciate our sense of touch. We’ve got some mental work to do for planning but the key thing in play here is our hands (and feet, if you’re into that!)

watercolour & ArtGraf sketch by Cat S. | CC-BY-NC-SA

It is true–once tactile signals intensify, vocal & visual signals become less important.

This is why it feels like a match in heaven to create a painting while listening to music. But it can feel torturous to attempt to type an essay while there’s music playing or people talking in the background. Typing is mostly mental work and your hands are just pressing keys on a board or tapping a glass surface–it’s an activity that can fool yourself that you have full control. But if you engage in physical world handiwork, you quickly realise your control is limited and so you learn to understand the world outside your head much better.

When we work with our hands, we become present to what’s in front of us,
we become aware of what’s right under our nose.

watercolour graphite sketch by Cat S. | CC-BY-NC-SA

But just like activities of consumption, when we do the opposite

–when we produce instead of consume–

we are also entertaining ourselves, because it’s entertaining to discover new information from our environment, it’s entertaining to discover new skills we didn’t know we were capable of–and those two make it possible for us to see things in a different light.

Going to our playground is a means for entertainment and learning.

“Whether we like it or not, whether we are conscious of it or not, entertainment is education. Entertainment concentrates attention.” [1]

– Andrew Gilchrist –

watercolour & ArtGraf sketch by Cat S. | CC-BY-NC-SA

Ultimately that is what we can hope for kitty–a good education.
An education that is grounded in reality.

Now let’s think about where to start. I have an idea.
You don’t have to do it in the exact same way, but once I show you what I did, you will be able to find ways to do something similar–or even better !

Here’s what to do.
Create a visual love letter.

It’s a simple activity, but it requires you to extend your thoughts outside of yourself–that’s the cliff you have to climb off of to be able to do this well.

You can use any piece of paper you have at home, or if you have a blank notebook you can create a mini-flipbook letter with it !

This is where you traverse that valley in between two cliffs. This is the fun part, kitty.

This is where you explore unknown territory. This is where you can practice combining visual language and sketches to communicate your message. You can use any pencil or drawing pen–this would be a great time to experiment !

It’s up to you how many pages you want to fill.
But here’s a tip–leave some blank pages for your recipient. They will find a way to make use of it ! They might use their own hand to scribble and doodle or who knows, they might even write a reply message to you using it ! and you could continue until you’ve filled up all the pages.

Okay kitty let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s keep things simple for now.
Simple like an eight-word postal letter–

See how fun that was ?

Now once you’re done and you’ve sealed that envelope, it’s time to gather the courage to climb up the other cliff.

It’s time to let go of your handiwork, and hand it over to your recipient–it can be your child, your parent, your grandparent, your brother, your sister, niece, nephew or a dear friend.

watercolour sketch by Cat S. | CC-BY-NC-SA

Once they have it, you will find yourself standing on a new plane.
Congratulations, you have just created something for someone using your hands.

That letter, that sketch was yours
and now it’s theirs to touch.

I hope you enjoyed that playful activity. It’s a start ! there’s more to explore.

[1] A note from Andrew Gilchrist‘s reflections on the ‘Marvel Family Values — Super Powers, Rationalism, and Sacrifices’ @10:55



Cat S

Cat S. is an illustrator & writer of comic books. More info at