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A Childs Drawing Analysis

Sami Shyken

University of Missouri, Columbia

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A Childs Drawing Analysis

Could you imagine a life without art? In many schools, it is beyond our control to
require art as part of the general curriculum. Until art is recognized to be just as important
as literacy and mathematics, it will continue to be pushed aside if time doesnt allow it.
According to Fran Smith, a writer whose work has appeared in hundreds of newspapers
and magazines states: Years of research show that art is closely linked to almost
everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our
schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement,
and equitable opportunity. What many people dont realize is that while being involved
in the arts, there are major gains in mathematics, reading, cognitive ability, critical
thinking, and verbal skills (Smith, 2014). We need to develop simple explanations of our
goals and achievements, and we need to take every opportunity to share these with
colleagues, administrators, and parents (Erickson & Bernard, pg. 40). It is important to
keep art in our schools because without art, there is no practice, and with no practice
there is no creativity. This is why it is important and beneficial to analyze our students
artwork, so we can understand their cognitive, emotional, social, and physical growth
(Erikson & Bernard, pg. 41). According to Viktor Lowenfeld and W. L. Brittain,
children progress through stages of development in their artwork in predictable ways,
with wide variations within an age norm or stage. These stages are called the Lowfeldian
stages. When we understand these stages, we can help our children learn and grow by
providing proper feedback and resources.
Lowenfeld and Brittain (1970) explain the stages of the Scribbling Stage, two-
four years: Beginnings of Self-Expression, The Preschematic Stage, four-seven years:
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First Representational Attempts, The Schematic Stage, seven-nine years: The
Achievement of a Form Concept, The Gang Age, nine-twelve years: The Dawning
Realism, The Pseudo-Naturalistic Stage, twelve-fourteen years: The age of Reasoning,
and the Adolescent Art, fourteen-seventeen years: The Period of Decision (474-479).
Within these stages, the following characteristics are examined: Drawing Characteristics,
Space Representation, and Human Figure Representation. Even though a particular age
range accompanies each of these stages, not all students may fall under these categories.
That is why it is important to analyze and understand childrens artwork. I have chosen
the childs artwork below; to analyze and interpret which stage I believe they are in. I
will describe the drawing and relate it to Lowenfeld and Brittains theories in art.
Description and Analysis

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The childs drawing that I have chosen seems to be a girl. I know this because
there are two longer strands of hair coming from the top of the head. There are two eyes,
a nose, and a mouth. There is also a neck that connects the body to the head. The left
side of the body is shaded and there are two arms with four fingers connected to each.
The background is blank, expect for the lined paper that it was drawn on. This child uses
multiple of the Twenty Basic Scribbles that happen to be the building blocks of art.
These are important because they permit a detailed and comprehensive description of the
work of young children (Kellogg, pg. 15). They use scribble 5, which is a single curved
line for the shape of the head. They also use scribble 20, which is an imperfect circle
when making the eyes and the nose. Scribble 1, a dot, is also shown inside the eye, which
adds more detail to the picture.
I believe that this student is in The Preschematic Stage, Four to Seven Years: First
Representational Attempts. Lowenfeld and Brittains (1970) chart states that this
particular stage the space seems to surround the child (475). In this image, the child is
in the very middle of the paper with no background. The placement and size of objects
are determined subjectively (Lowenfeld & Brittain, pg. 475). The objects seem to float
around the page (475) because the neck of the girl isnt actually connected to the head of
the body. I think the child might assume that the viewer understands that the neck is
supposed to be attached to the head, but it is not seen in this picture. The size of objects
not in proportion to one another (475) is also seen in this piece of art because the upper
body is a lot bigger than the rest of the body. Also, the bottom half of the image of the
girl is not drawn or shown. I think this is because it seems as if the child ran out of room
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at the bottom of the paper to continue the rest of the drawing because space didnt allow
it, which also goes along with why the objects are distorted to fit space available (475).
The following characteristics under the category of Human Figure Representation by
Lowenfeld and Brittain (1970) show that the image has head-feet symbols that grow out
of scribble, and that people are looking at the viewer, usually smiling. The 4 fingers do
not stem off of a hand, just the limb coming from the body. It also looks like the image is
smiling back at us, even if it is hard to tell. The child could improve on their coloring,
considering they colored in only one small side of the girls torso. The reasons listed
above are why this image clearly fits in the Preschematic Stage.
Analyzing this students artwork using Lowenfeld and Britians stages really
helped me understand how they think and perceive the world. After seeing this drawing,
I feel like I could offer guidance to this student and help them understand what other
details to add and why. It is beneficial to both the teacher and the student to understand
how their artistic ability forms to better understand their cognitive, emotional, social, and
physical growth (Erikson & Bernard, pg. 41). This will help provide proper nurture and
resources for our students. If you take the art aspect out of schools, the creativity level
will start to plummet and we will start to see negative effects on other core subjects as
well. Until such time that artistic or visual literacy is valued on the same level as verbal
literacy and mathematical numeracy, we have an important task before us in adult
education (Erickson & Bernard, pg. 40). This is why it is important to keep art in our
schools and to keep fighting for what is important for our students.

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Erikson, M., & Young, B. (1996). What every educator should (but maybe doesnt)
know. School Arts, 96(2), 40-42.
Kellogg, R. (1970). Analyzing childrens art. Palo Alto, CA: National
Lowenfeld, V., & Brittain, W. L. (1970). Creative and mental growth. New York:
Smith, F. (2014, April 3). Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who's Doing It Best.
Retrieved October 1, 2014, from