Kelly’s Artwork

The purpose of this investigation is to analyze and come to a conclusion about the evergrowing art stages of early and beginning artists, as based on an artistic drawing provided by a
young learner. Through this paper, I will be able to critically think and analyze the different
points of a work of art. I will do this through the eyes of an elementary teacher. I believe that
Kelly shows many different art growths in her drawing. This could include some areas of
strengths and some just-out-of-reach, working-toward areas in her artwork! Overall, I would
classify her as an emerging artist with a ton of potential! Through this investigation, I found that
Kelly is in the Preschematic Stage of art work, while features of her artwork also show she is
moving toward the Schematic Phase.
I received my artwork from Kelly, who is a 5 year old preschool student. Kelly drew with
markers on a white piece of paper as her support. During her drawing, I took notes to unravel her
artwork piece by piece. Kelly and I sat down at her dining room table in the mustard colored
dining room. I explained to her what I would like for her to draw, but ultimately told her she
could make it her own! She chose markers to draw with, because she “likes getting messy.” As
she picked up each color, I probed her in finding out what the colors meant to her or how they
held meaning to what she was doing. After she would finish a detail on her drawing, I was quick
to ask her why she made that mark! Sometimes I got well thought out responses, while others left
me with “I just really like that color.” She had a blast drawing her family for me and made sure
to add some supporting details to her picture.

Katherine Lister


Kelly’s drawing shows us many things about her artistic abilities and her intelligence. In
her drawing we see her family, including her, her mom, and her dad. We can also see her mom
and dad are taller than she is. In the left hand corner we see a heart, representing the love she has
for her family. She told me that hearts can show love if they are the color red. We can see all her
figures are drawn on a floating plane. Below the plane, we see some dots, not described as
anything more than a space filler. Finally, there is a line going through her mother’s arm in the
picture. She told me, and I quote, “Sometimes when you are 5, your hand slips when you color,
and I can’t erase marker!”

Katherine Lister


I see Kelly’s overall stage as Preschematic; however, she could be classified as moving
into the Schematic Stage. I know she is Preschematic because most of her objects on her
drawing are: unrelated to the other ones; her people are floating on an invisible plane; her family
is smiling and looking at the viewer; she included arms, legs, and bodies on her people; and there
are omissions such as a background and also clothes. Her family is standing on a line, however
the line is not at the bottom of the page or represented by anything other than a line. Her family
is smiling and is facing forward towards the viewer of the artwork. Her family is not wearing
clothes though. Kelly did not give me any reasoning for why she didn’t include clothing.
However, she shows to be in the Schematic phase because there is a baseline on which her
objects are standing, her emotional value influenced her, and her drawing shows her knowledge
of her environment. I find it interesting that she started with herself on the left hand side of the
picture. This shows she holds an emotional connection to herself and therefore started the
drawing by drawing herself first (which she did!). The largest focus is the one on her
environment. She drew her figures relatively to size and scale in relation to each other. Her father
and mother are the same height, and she comes up to about their waist. Along with this, although
the hair color is incorrect (she does have red hair), her father has a beard and is bald, her mother
has short hair, and her hair is the longest in her family, as represented in the drawing. (Brittain,
1970, 475-476).
Before beginning the investigation of Kelly’s artwork, I referred to “25 Tips for
Teachers” by Margaret Johnson. This article gave me great insight into how to speak to Kelly.
This helped me learn why each mark was made, in the color it was made in, and also the size in
relation to the rest of the picture. This article offered great insight such as labeling their actions,
or pointing them out. For example, with Kelly, I made sure to let her know that I was paying

Katherine Lister


attention to her (Johnson, 2008, 76). When she began drawing the lines for her figures, I was
quick to ask her what she was making them into. I also made sure to refer to her as an artist.
Many times, I called her “Artist Kelly”. She LOVED it. She seriously absolutely loved it. This
gave her a confidence boost to continue in her art work seeing as children her age tend to get
upset and bored easily (Johnson, 76)!
The drawing shows us some great representations of other artistic characteristics. First,
she combines shapes to make simple items such as combining a circle and a few lines to make
her stick figures in her drawing. The Board of Education of Baltimore County suggests having
Kelly name parts of her drawing and to continue to have her do this. In our time together, she did
name the parts to me, making sure I knew the representations of the arms, legs, and head features
of her figures. Also, she uses the space around her objects to embellish the paper. She decided to
add hearts to add a definition to the people in her picture. This shows they are all in love.
According to the board, we should have Kelly repeat patterns and continue to explore her
background making skills (Maryland Board of Education of Baltimore County, 1974, 3).
Kelly shows two different principles. The first being fill the format principles. I can
determine this because her human figures are not proportional to their own body. Their torso
area is much longer than their arm size, and all are too long in proportion to their heads (Wilson
& Wilson, 1982, 43). Along with this, her drawing also shows the perpendicular principle. This
can be seen because the baseline is not relative to anything else in the picture. The objects seem
to float on the page and defy gravity (Wilson & Wilson, 1982, 41). While the objects are straight
up and down, they are floating in a space with no definition. The smallest addition of grass and a
sky would change this, but she didn’t want to add grass to her picture, she loved it the way it

Katherine Lister


My recognition of Kelly’s stage classification is not a one-size-fits-all stage definition.
Instead, I see her as being in 2 stages. The Preschematic age ranges from 4 to 7 and the
Schematic phase ranges from 7 to 9. According to Erikson and Young, it is very likely for
children to move through the stages in wide variations. One quote I love is, “Just as reading and
math levels vary widely in an average class, we should expect it would be natural for art levels to
also vary widely” (Erikson & Young, 1996, 40). I am in love with this quote because it is
beyond true. While Kelly may draw something like this at art time, her peers may draw drawings
that show they are in a very different learning stage. Even comparing it to my students in my first
grade field class, I can tell that Kelly’s drawing differs to my student Chase. Chase enjoys filling
his page with color, but his drawings do not show any definition to them. In relation to Chase’s
color, his artwork shows something entirely different from Kelly’s, even though they are similar
in age, and according to suggested ages, should be in the same stage.
Even though a child may be the same age and same learning level as a similar child in
their classroom, their art making abilities could stand to be drastically different from their peers.
It is important to allow children to express themselves through art even at a young age because
they have so much potential. For some, it is easier to represent their knowledge of a topic with
artwork! We as teachers need to appreciate every piece of art or every art project we receive.
Some pieces of art hold very high meaning and value for children. You can learn so much about a
child through a piece of their art. This could give insight into what they know and what may just
be out of reach.
I would suggest to all Elementary Educators to make sure to offer art opportunities.
Going along with this point, they need to integrate seamlessly into a lesson project. A good

Katherine Lister


teacher could bring coloring or using one to two media into her classroom while a great teacher
will offer multiple projects that have a strong depth to them. This allows any teacher to dig into
knowledge in a different way aside from the “norm” assessments. In each stage art can teach
any core subject. For example, through art, you are giving early childhood and early elementary
children coordination to help their writing and hand moving skills. Along with this it can make
core content more enjoyable for any age or level, not only for the student but also the teacher.
This comes in handy for children who may not enjoy school or student’s who feel content is too
hard for them to understand, especially upper elementary. Children are allowed to explore and
represent in ways that may be limited through a simple pen and paper. Adding color to a page
automatically makes the paper more inviting. Art should be integrated into every subject to allow
for maximum success for all students.

Katherine Lister


Brittain, W.L. & V Lowenfeld. (1970) Creative and Mental Growth. New York, NY: MacMillan
Co.pgs 474-479.
Erikson, M., & Young, B. (1996). What every educator should (but maybe doesn’t) 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.
Maryland Board of Education of Baltimore County. (1974). Beginning stages of visual
expression of young children. In Art Experience, Development of Visual Perception, 1-4.
Wilson, M., & Wilson, B. (1982). Teaching children to draw. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PrenticeHall.