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LTC 4240: Art for

Children Research
Megan Thornburg

Art for Children Research Paper

Throughout history, art has been a form of expression and way of communication

for everyone. Unlike writing, reading, or math, anyone can create art no matter their

education, experience, or age. Currently, children that attend public schools in the United

States normally have art classes that are on some sort of rotation with music, physical

education, and, in some cases, technology classes. Art is viewed by many students as an

outlet for their creativity. Art creates a time for students to discover new ways to interpret

their interests and feelings and turn blank pages or their ideas into an expression. The

time also allows for children to progress through a series of stages of development

andthere are sets of characteristics that can be identified and are typically found among

large groups of children within broadly defined age-ranges (Luehrman & Unrath, 2006).

These stages allow educators to identify where a child is developmentally and help them

further develop their artistic abilities. There are specific traits that accompany each stage,

and as children exhibit these stages, educators are able to better accurately place what

stage they are in and develop plans to move them into the next stage.


To get a closer look at the artistic decisions used by an elementary aged student, I

interviewed Rose (pseudonym). Rose is a fifth-grade student, who has parents from India.

I was really interested with the influences this background would have on her art, because

she is exposed to multiple cultural factors that make her unique compared to other

classmates. For this assignment, I simply asked Rose to draw me a picture of anything

she wanted to draw. I also asked Rose to talk about her artistic choices out loud so that I
could record her reasoning by writing it down. I wanted to allow Rose plenty of time to

create her drawing, so I made sure we had at least twenty minutes for her to draw. The

materials that I provided for Rose to draw were notebook paper and a large assortment of

colored pencils.


During the twenty minutes used to draw, Rose created an image that is inspired by

her Indian heritage. Before she started drawing, Rose looked through all the color options

and selected about five or six colored pencils. I asked her why she chose to use only these

few colors and she replied, These are the prettiest colors. From this statement, I gained

insight on Roses first aesthetic choices. There was no reason for Rose to choose the
colors, except that she liked them more than the other colors available showing, In an

age of abundance, appealing only to rational, logical, and functional needs is woefully

insufficientBut if those things are not also pleasing to the eye or compelling to the soul,

few will buy them (Pink, 2006). Through the careful selection of the color scheme, I

better understood Roses aesthetic choices, choices that are individual specific to herself.

As Rose started her drawing, she narrated almost every step. First, Rose started drawing

by saying, Right now, Im drawing a simple teardrop, but big. After she drew her initial

line, she followed up by saying, Make the same shape, a little bit smaller on the inside.

With Rose focusing on the use of lines in her drawing, it shows her use of visualization,

Over time, and with experience, every line that children create adds an extra dimension

to their visual conception of line (Burton, 1980). The detail and time that Rose dedicated

to the lines that she was drawing really emphasize the experience that she has with

creating similar artwork. Rose continued to draw one more outline of the teardrop shape

on the inside of the initial line. While she was drawing these lines, she said that she is,

always trying to make the lines as neat as possible meaning she was trying to draw

them in a way where they would not touch each other or look uneven.

Rose displayed her status developmentally through her artistic choices,

specifically through her cultural influences that she based her drawing. Rose chose to

model her drawing from the henna designs that her mother creates at home.

investigators of early artistic development have shown that the first steps in symbol

making are prompted by the emergence of two important new abilities. The first involves

learning to make connections between ideas about the world. The second involves

learning to construct or shape representational concepts (Burton, 1980). Through this

investigation, I would say that Rose has a deep understanding of these two abilities when

creating symbols. Rose demonstrated her connection to ideas about the world through

drawing an adaptation of her mothers henna designs. When I asked Rose about henna,

she told me that when her mother was a student in India, it was a requirement that the

women take henna classes. She continued to demonstrate her understanding of Indian

culture by saying that henna is mainly used for religious purposes or celebrations. From

this conversation and Roses incorporation of cultural influences, I can see that she

demonstrates a deep understanding of the world around her as well as an understanding

about multiple cultures. This is a direct influence on her artistic choices, and this

information about her cultural heritage that she chooses to incorporate into the art that she


I was surprised when Rose was filling in the outlines of the teardrops with

scales or u shapes, that she filled in the space left between a few of the scales with a

darker color. This color was separate from the initial colors that she chose. I asked Rose

why she decided to fill in the leftover space and why she chose such a contrasting color.

Her response was, it fills up the empty space and gives it a bolder look. Through her

choice of words, I gained further insight into her aesthetic choices.


Based from the drawing techniques and reasoning behind Roses creation, I would

place her in-between two stages. The stages are the Dawning Realism stage and the

Pseudo-Naturalistic stage. These stages fit my student developmentally because she is

basing her drawing from a more complex schema, meaning she is using elements of what

she already knows in her artwork, but that artwork is trying to be like her mothers henna.
In order for Rose to completely transition to the Pseudo-Naturalistic stage, I would

recommend that she focuses more on relationships in her drawings and the effects of

different techniques used to produce art. I would encourage Rose to keep creating henna

inspired art, but to try new ideas and incorporate more shapes, even trying different

patterns to get different outcomes.

Gaining the experience of watching a child draw and seeing their current artistic

development is important. It is helpful to know how to gauge students stages of

development so that I can help them further their abilities during the school year.

Drawings and artwork that children produce show teachers the type of connections that

they are making between themselves and the world around them.

Burton, J. M. (1980). Beginnings of artistic language. Developing Minds. Boston, MA:

Boston University.

Burton, J. M. (1980). The first visual symbols. Developing Minds. Boston, MA: Boston


Luehrman, M. & Unrath, K. (2006). Making theories of childrens artistic development

meaningful for preservice teachers. Art Education. 59(3). Missouri.

Pink, D. H. (2006). A whole new mind: why right-brainers will rule the future. New York,

NY: Penguin Group.