Betty Edwards has a large section in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, about the creative ability of children and their development as artists as they mature. Apparently, most adults in the Western World do not progress in art skills beyond their level of development at the ages of nine or ten years old and are self-conscious and embarrassed about their artistic abilities. At this particular age, children suddenly become very self-critical and embarrassed about their attempts to produce less than perfectly realistic depictions, often internalising the derogatory opinions of significant others and then, sadly and abruptly, abandoning their art.
She discusses the different stages of artistic development from :
Scribbling (1.5 to 4 years old) and its different stages. Symbolic and simple, it increases in complexity at 3.5 years old, reflecting the child’s growing awareness and perceptions of the world around him/her. Details of clothing are incorporated at 4 years old and between 4 and 5 years old, pictures are used to tell stories, portray feelings and work out problems.
Between 5 and 6 years old, the child has developed a set of symbols to create a landscape, usually including the ground and sky; a house or home with relevant details (door with doorknob, windows and curtains, and a roof with chimney); a path and fence; trees and flowers, birds and insects, and maybe people or family members; mountains, clouds and a sun and/or rainbow and rain.
By 9 or 10 years old, that dreaded definitive age (!), children aim for increasing detail and realism in their art. Concern for composition diminishes and drawings are differentiated by gender, due to cultural factors. Boys begin to draw cars, weapons, fighting scenes and legendary heroes like pirates and Vikings, while girls depict flowers in vases, waterfalls, mountains reflected in still lakes, pretty girls and fashion models. Cartoons become more popular, as they enable early adolescents to avoid the feeling that their drawing is ‘babyish’!
By age 10 or 11 years, their passion for realism is in full bloom and when their drawings are less than perfectly realistic, children become discouraged and it is at this point that continued art education is so important to help them understand the artistic process and give them tools and techniques to achieve their goals.
Unfortunately, during my secondary school education, our subjects were streamed in lines and because I followed academic subjects like languages, sciences and advanced mathematics, I did not return to art study until matriculation. In those days, most people were able to matriculate in one year with four subjects, but because physics and chemistry were studied over two years, and I had already gained results in Biology and Maths, I was able to fill the extra two lesson slots with English Literature and Art. However, because of the lack of tuition in the intervening years and my lack of self-confidence in the artistic sphere, especially compared to the amazing efforts of my fellow art students, I majored in Art History, with Batik as my medium for the practical component!
Little wonder then that I placed such a high value on developing creativity in my own children, who studied art all the way through and past the danger period, becoming very competent adult artists. In fact, my daughter Caroline has just finished illustrating her first book, a self-help publication, written by her sister’s friend, a personal life coach, Hayat Berkaoui. See: http://www.hayatcoaching.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=hayat%20ber. This will be the front cover. Look out for it!Here are some of the books I used to maintain, nurture and develop my children’s artistic talent.
You Can Draw Anything by Kim Gamble 1994
We were lucky enough to attend a talk given by the creator of Tashi at my children’s primary school in Armidale. For information about Kim, see: http://tashibooks.com/Kimgamble.html about Kim, for information about the Tashi books, see: http://tashibooks.com/books.html and for Kim’s illustration process, it is especially worth watching: http://tashibooks.com/illustrating.html. Another excellent video clip can be found on http://tashibooks.com/Creators.html, as well as on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVxuefbKqoI.
I was so sad to discover during my research for this post that Kim had died in February 2016 at the far too early age of 63 years old! See his tribute by Anna Fienberg, his co-creator of the Tashi books at: http://readingtime.com.au/vale-kim-gamble-13-july-1952-19-february-2016/.
I loved this book with its quirky illustrations, humorous text and imaginative suggestions, using basic shapes (circles, rectangles, squares, ovals and triangles) as starting points, which make the whole drawing process look so easy. Along the way, he covers: Using a Grid; Drawing Faces and Human Figures, including Action Men; Drawing Animals; Perspective; and Shading and Cross-Hatching.
He includes illustrated instructions for drawing favourite childhood subject matter like cars, planes and trains; fairies and flying witches; castles; forests and flowers; and dragons, dinosaurs and whales!
Drawing should be FUN and the next book by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy is another wonderful addition to your children’s art library!
Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy 1999
Quentin Blake is very well-known for his illustrations for many of Roald Dahl’s books, favourites among children, so the illustrations in this delightful sketching guide are very familiar and appealing to children, their parents and Roald Dahl readers. See: https://www.quentinblake.com/; https://www.quentinblake.com/tags/roald-dahl; and http://www.roalddahl.com/blog/2016/march/quentin-blake-collaborating-with-roald-dahl.
This book is so much fun and very child-centred in its approach, with its first page dedicated to the child owner’s signature and lots of intentional mistakes, smudges and scribbles. I love the authors’ ‘Gung-Ho approach to art’ (photo below of page 5); and admonition to avoid self-criticism or listen to negative remarks! (photo of page 22).The authors encourage children to draw on the pages and this book is littered with my daughter Jenny’s artwork and I’m sure contributed greatly to the development of her artistic talent (see photo below of pages 28 and 29 : Clocks and Candles). I love her illustrations of Dogs (Page 60); Birds (Page 63); and Pigs (Page 65). The latter photo featuring an illustration of Piglutta, a central character of the annual magazines she produced as a teenager and her first novel, The Adventures of Camel, Piggy and Hippoe 2008. Horses, fish, crocodiles, cockatoos, emotional rabbits, human faces and figures are also covered and, despite its informal and humorous approach, the book still manages to impart valuable knowledge about perspective; light and shadow; and silhouettes.Another very effective technique involves asking children to lend their own touch of genius to unfinished drawings. See the photo above of the Greatly Fearded 14-Legged Galumposaurus, Which Needs a Back End (Pages 54 to 55) and the photo below, Mrs Thudkin’s Floppaterasis and the 3-Headed Red-Spotted Gorff (Pages 56 to 57).It is a terrific book and even comes complete with a clear pencil case, containing a red and black watercolour pencil and a black ink sketch pen, attached to the spine.
You Can Draw a Kangaroo: The Poems Tell You What To Do 1964/ 1985 Published forthe Australian Information Service by the Australian Government Publishing Service
A delightful quirky old guide to drawing Australian animals from my childhood, which I still use to create embroidery designs. Using humorous rhyme, as indicated by the subtitle, and sequential drawings based on basic shapes (ovals, circles etc ), it makes it easy to produce basic recognizable line drawings of our unique Australian wildlife, including a Kangaroo, Emu, Echidna, Budgerigar, Magpie, Wombat, Platypus, Goanna, Pelican, Kookaburra, Koala, Boobook Owl, Brolga, Bandicoot, Cockatoo, Glider, Swan, Groper, Turtle, Cassowary, Mud-Skipper, Frilled Lizard and Lyrebird. Here is a sample page: The Kangaroo.How To Draw and Paint the Outdoors: Practical Techniques for All Junior Painters by Moira Butterfield 1995
A lovely children’s book and my final book for today! As you all know, I am a great believer in forging the link between nature and children, and this book is a valuable contributor to the cause, as well as developing the child’s passion and ability for drawing and painting. It is written for children between the ages of seven and twelve, a very important make-or-break period for children’s art!
There are many wonderful practical examples and easy-to-follow instructions on perspective; light and shade; mixing colours; brush strokes and painting without a brush (stippling, dot/ dash painting, sponging, dragging and combing, waxing and scratching); working with photographs; scaling and enlarging pictures; and the realistic portrayal of a range of subject matter from landscapes, city scapes and industrial scenes to sky, water and waves, and trees and flowers, as well as information on colouring with different types of paints, pastels, chalks and crayons, and more unusual techniques like printing, finger painting, painting on glass, textured rubbings and collages. Other projects include: Making a Portfolio; a Viewfinder; a 3-D Landscape; and Maps and Models.Please note that last month’s post on Design and Inspiration also featured some wonderful books for encouraging children’s art and creativity: The Usborne Book of Art Ideas and The Usborne Book of Art Projects. See: https://wordpress.com/post/candeloblooms.com/51827.
Next week, I will be looking at some of my favourite books on Watercolour Painting, as well as Artists’ Journals!