Learning Through the Eyes of Artist

Yulia OnosovskayaUncategorized

At ScuttleBugs, we expose our students to a variety of arts, from music - starting from infancy - to dancing and drawing – when they’re a little older. All the children love it, and it surely helps them to develop their natural talents and self awareness.

The mother of one of our 2017 Graduates recently gave us this feedback on her son’s drawing abilities:

“His teacher said he asks a lot of questions and that's actually good, because it leads to the other kids also asking questions. He's also in a cartooning class that didn't even want Kinders, and he's only TK, and he's killing it! His drawings are indistinguishable in quality to his 7 year old brother’s.”

But what is the quality of a 7 year old’s drawing supposed to be? Let’s see how the drawings of kids of different ages usually develop, and how it corresponds to their stages of world discovery.

It is hard to overestimate the intellectual work that children complete while changing their approach to drawing between the ages of 2 and 4. Observing the development of their drawings carefully, it is possible to see the development of the phases of their understanding of the structure of the world around them. Children reflect this understanding in their drawings and thus give us the opportunity to see what is going on in their minds.

The first stage of children’s drawings is random graphic traces made with fingers, pens or pencils on paper, table or walls into lines and points of various shapes. Children start to make such drawings at about 1 year when their eyes become accustomed to following their hand movements. And they love to draw! It is a sign of an important discovery made by the child at that age: he or she can intentionally leave their traces in the world.
Between two and two and a half, children make the next step: they discover that the sheet of paper has borders. If previously the pencil travelled freely to the table or floor away from the paper and back, now the child tries to stay within the paper sheet. This corresponds to the understanding of borders of their own spaces, room, house, etc.
In the period between 2.5 -3 years the drawings change dramatically: the little ones discover that their “traces” can mean something or be similar to something. They discover the function of a drawing being a sign that means something different from what they are. Children try to make the signs represent people, animals, things and even abstract ideas. They don’t worry about the shapes being imperfect and instead start to express through drawings things that are important to them. Sometimes just brilliantly!
These first images made have no direction. The children just draw where they find the space. They have no Up or Down. In this phase the important thing for a child is to be able to create – on the paper – whatever or whoever he wants. At this stage our little artists are also solving an important intellectual problem: which unique feature will be enough to make a dog image different from a human image, or from a bird or from a mouse – such as walking on two or four legs, having a tail or not, having wings etc.
Only between 3.5 and 4 years do children realize that their characters need a “world” to be placed in on a drawing. They need the ground under their feet and sky above their heads. The ground can be represented as a green or brown line, or a series of vertical lines (grass or flowers). Likewise, the sky can be a blue line, or a series of clouds, suns, birds or airplanes. The important thing for a child in this period is to have a base on which everything stands, and a roof or lid above, while the characters usually sit in between in line. This repeats the principle of the images of Ancient Egypt, and represents the attempt to have an organized world space. Vertical structure of space comes first, and a little later also horizontal axis of the drawing, associated with time, becomes important for a child. At the same time drawings acquire direction and movement, and profile portraits (as opposed to face-on portraits) appear.

Of course, children’s drawings are only one of many ways they express their perceptions of the world. They also reflect their perceptions in their games, dances, songs and other artistic activities. That’s why it’s very important to encourage children’s free artistic expression and not apply an adult’s artistic concepts to it.

As Picasso said,

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”.
Pablo Picasso