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A Childs Drawing Analysis Emily A. Kartheiser University of Missouri, Columbia

A CHILDS DRAWING ANALYSIS A Childs Drawing Analysis Children develop artistic abilities and understanding by going through different stages. Other growth they experience, such as cognitive, emotional, social, and physical growth also occur in stages. Erickson and Young (1996) explain children progressing in predictable ways, with wide variations within an age norm or stage (p. 41). It is important for teachers to understand the different stages in artistic development and be able to recognize them. These stages are called Lowenfeldian stages. When a teacher identifies which Lowenfeldian stage his/her student is demonstrating, he or she will be able to adequately provide the proper

encouragement, suggestions, and activities for each student. According to Luehrman and Unrath (2006), understanding how children develop artistically is essential for choosing ageappropriate teaching strategies and content (p. 6). It is easier for teachers to properly tailor lessons to their students needs once they possess a basic knowledge of artistic stage representation. Lowenfeld and Brittain (1970) listed the Lowenfeldian Stages of Art as the Scribbling Stage (2-4 years), Preschematic Stage (4-7 years), Schematic Stage (7-9 years), Gang Age (9-12 years), Pseudo-Naturalistic Stage (12-14 years), and Adolescent Art (14-17 years) (pp. 474-479). Specific characteristics involving drawing, space representation, and human figure representation distinguish the stages from one another. The ages symbolize the typical range each stage is found in, however, not every child that falls within a specific age range displays that category of artistic ability. Stages are not meant to be rigidly interpreted, but are intended to be used as an approximation of the sequence most children will develop artistically. For this assignment, I have chosen a childs artwork (Figure 1) and will identify which stage I believe the child to be

A CHILDS DRAWING ANALYSIS in. I will describe and analyze the drawing, relating it to general theories of childrens development in art. Description and Analysis

The childs drawing I have chosen seems to be a black marker drawing of the Mayflower (see Figure 1 below). Chris (pseudonym) drew the boat as a rectangle with one side wider than the other, which slants downward towards the right of the page. He created a mast and sails by drawing two isosceles triangles connected at the base, and two rectangular figures underneath. Mayflowor [sic] is written in the top right corner of the boat. There is a man in the boat who is smiling at the viewer. The man is composed of a circular head with two dots for eyes, and a small, single curved line characteristic of one of the twenty basic scribbles that are the building blocks of art (Kellogg, 1970, p. 15). He has a geometric top hat drawn on his head, and I can see that Chris has depicted the neck and upper torso of the man that disappears behind the boat. He created the background and surroundings by making the ocean water two horizontal, squiggly lines. There are also three fish shown swimming in the water underneath the boat.

Figure 1. Example drawing in the Schematic Stage

A CHILDS DRAWING ANALYSIS I believe Chris is in the Schematic Stage of drawing. Lowenfeld and Brittains (1970) summary chart of the different stages states that this stage has bold, direct, flat representation

(p. 476). This flat and bold representation is seen throughout the image in the absence of shading or any added dimension. Another aspect of Schematic artwork is the use of x-ray drawings (Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1970, p. 476). These are aspects included in a picture that would not actually be seen, such as a baby in a mothers womb or something inside of an opaque box. Chris drew three fish in the ocean beneath the boat. He has demonstrated attention to detail with the fish, even though someone would not ordinarily be able to see directly through the water. One may assume since he drew the fish underwater, that he would also show the portion of the boat that is underneath it. This detail is omitted and is consistent with the characteristic of an established baseline, in this case, the waves. There is little to no overlapping, because the ocean does not overlap the boat in the image, except for at the very tip of the water. The only other thing that is overlapped is the body of the boat passenger, which is cut off once the boat starts. The man in the boat has a voluminous body shape and is not simply a stick figure. Even though I cannot see the arms and legs, I can tell by the way the torso is drawn that the rest of the body would be filled-out. Everything in the picture is placed in relation to the other objects, symbolizing a change from the earlier Preschematic Stage. Something to highlight is the size of the head being disproportionate to the rest of the body. Schematic artists use proportions that depend on the emotional values of the figures (Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1970, p. 476). Chris made the head bigger than the rest of the person, so we may assume that it is the most important part of the man to Chris. Chris clearly demonstrates many concepts associated with the Schematic Stage, and understands different notions about art, including form, environment interaction, base lines, and

A CHILDS DRAWING ANALYSIS relationships between objects. He still needs more practice with drawing and coloring, as he merely scribbled all over to fill in the boat, mast, and mans clothes. He was unable to stay within the lines, suggesting that he is at the earlier end of the Schematic Stage spectrum. These are skills that will improve with rehearsal and support from a teacher. Students will be successful artists and display improvement when adults discuss art making with them. Some

examples of open ended, nonjudgmental questions and comments that facilitate a childs work incorporate the topics of ideas, process, materials, knowledge, and the future. They include: tell me more about your did you make your artwork...what kinds of shapes did you use (Johnson, 2008, p. 74). When teachers use these questions when they converse with their students about their art, the students are able to reflect on their work and get new ideas. Conclusion Having knowledge of the ways children achieve artistic development is extremely beneficial for both the teacher and the student. Without someone to help foster a childs growth, a student may run the risk of their art being misinterpreted or neglected [with] the young artists meanings never communicated (Johnson, 2008, p. 79). As important as the ability to nurture art is, it is of equal importance that teachers guide childrens aesthetic development (Johnson, 2008, p. 79), both visually and verbally. Our world is beginning to emphasize right-brained approaches to things; that is, creativity and meaning. Even classroom teachers should incorporate art more into their daily activities. As Pink (2006), states: When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact (p. 103). The rise of technology has made it less critical to memorize facts and dates. Students and adults alike find it pointless to spend time on

A CHILDS DRAWING ANALYSIS rote memorization, because in the real world, they can look facts up in seconds with only the click of a button. What has begun to matter is the essence of story. This can be achieved only when teachers deliberately connect with students through the arts and written craft. When teachers possess a thorough understanding of a childs relationship with art, they are able to meaningfully guide the child in nurturing their creative mind, which will in turn allow the student the ability to employ the use of his/her right brain thinking.

A CHILDS DRAWING ANALYSIS References Erickson, M., & Young, B. (1996). What every educator should (but maybe doesnt) know. School Arts, 96(2), 40-42. Johnson, M. H. (2008). Developing verbal and visual literacy through experiences in the visual arts. Young Children, 63(1), 74-79. Kellogg, R. (1970). Analyzing childrens art. Palo Alto, CA: National. Lowenfeld, V., & Brittain, W. L. (1970). Creative and mental growth. New York: Macmillan. Luehrman, M., & Unrath, K. (2006). Making theories of childrens artistic development meaningful for pre-service teachers. Art Education, 59(3), 6-12. Pink, D. H. (2006). A whole new mind: Why right-brainers will rule the future. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.