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Developmental Stages in Art
Transcript of Developmental Stages in Art
Roland, C. (2006). Young in Art: a developmental look at child art. Retrieved from www.artjunction.org
Donley, S. K. (1987). Drawing development in children: Victor Lowenfeld & Betty Edwards. Retrieved from
Children are born with a predisposition to art. They are curious.
They have vivid imagination.
They are not afraid to experiment with different art mediums.
Teachers should harness this fascination with art and help support children's artistic development as they go through different stages.
It does not take long for children to go from observers to active "scribblers." As early as 18 months old, they enjoy randomly moving a crayon over (and sometimes off) the paper. The most natural movement is circular.
They are fascinated to notice the connection between their movements and marks on the paper.
At this stage we see:
random and controlled scribbles
repetition of certain motions and lines
appearance of various patterns, shapes & letter forms
children give name and meaning to their art
How to support your little scribbler
Whether as a parent or a teacher, there are ways you can help a child dive into their scribbling phase.
Stock up on appropriate art materials
Give them a medium they can easily manipulate (crayons, markers, pens and pencils, and paper of contrasting color)
Appreciate the art and the artist
Scribbles are important and they have meaning, even though it might not be obvious to an adult eye. Talk with children about their art, comment on their movements and ask lots of questions. They will be happy to tell you all about it.
Fun with scribbles
Scribbling is not just for little kids.
An example of an activity for 3-6 year olds called "Scribble Chase" from "Smart Art Ideas" by Anna Reyner can be viewed here:
The video below illustrates how scribbles can be taken to another level. So, next time you look at a child's scribble, try to see what is hidden behind those lines.
(age: 18 months - 3 years)
According to Betty Edwards, at around 3 or 4 children make the discovery that symbols can represent real things and the circular symbol becomes a universal way to represent almost anything.
Lowenfeld states that the first representational attempt is a person, usually with a circle head and two lines for legs.
At this stage we see:
unique figures that express how children think or feel about things rather than what they see
self-portraits and a focus on emerging concept of self
objects from their environment that "float" on the page and are not spatially related
Help them tell a story
At this stage, children begin to tell stories with their art, changing basic forms to express meaning (Edwards).
Create experiences for them that build awareness of their own body so their figures become more complete.
Capitalize on the egocentric nature of this age group and motivate them with topics that tap into their personal experiences and interests (family, pets, games).
Encourage them to draw their surroundings even if it is not in linear perspective.
Have conversations about their art to nurture attention to detail.
Art instruction in the symbolic stage
(age: 10 and up)
Overcoming the crisis of realism
At this stage, symbols have evolved to represent distinct objects from the child's environment. Lowenfeld calls these unique representations "schemas" - individualized expressions of the child's active knowledge of a particular subject.
Edwards calls this the "landscape stage," when children create balanced compositions involving a set of symbols, such as the blue line-sun-green line, for the sky and the ground.
At this stage we see:
Clearly differentiated figure with body parts and other detail
Single and multiple baselines to organize objects in space
Story telling with space-and-time representations
X-ray and "cutaway" effects show the inside of an object
To introduce more variation and flexibility into the established schemas, stimulate awareness of various actions and functions of the human figure.
Motivate them with sports topics and story-telling.
Expose them to various cultural sources and visual materials to inspire creation of original characters and narrative plots.
Use their fascination with popular culture to experiment with art techniques and to develop their drawing abilities.
The stages and ages listed are not clear-cut and they overlap considerably.
Nurturing young artists is as much about teaching art techniques as it is about encouraging creativity and individuality.
Edwards believes that proper teaching methods can prevent the "crisis of realism."
Lowenfeld suggests acquainting children with abstract art and applied arts, to demonstrate how art can be approached in imaginative ways. Thus, when they reach the "age of decision," at about 14, this will ensure that they do not decide to abandon creating art altogether.
Children develop greater visual awareness of the things around them and they want to depict them as they really are.
According to Lowenfeld, schematic generalizations are no longer sufficient for these young artists to express reality. Edwards mentions a shift in concerns from where things are to how they look.
At this stage we see:
Increased interest in detail, proportions and showing depth
People in action poses and in costumes
Overlapping objects and diminishing size to depict space
Use of ground plane, horizon line and linear perspective
Evolution of abstract thought and images as visual metaphors
From about age 12, children become less spontaneous and more critical about their art. They often experience frustration if their drawings do not "come out right," and this disappointment can lead to reluctance to engage in art.
Focus art instruction on visual description and observational techniques so that they become more competent in attaining realistic quality in their art.
Study the use of overlap, diminishing size and linear perspective to show depth
Encourage them to venture outside of realistic depictions to discover their personal artistic style
Emphasize expression of emotions and concept through visual metaphor to lessen their concern for realism
websites to explore