Child art is the drawings, paintings and other artistic works created by children. It is also referred to as “children’s art” or the “art of children”.
Children’s art can provide information about child development and psychological issues.
Third connotation of “child art” implies art intended for viewing by children, say illustrations in a book for juvenile readers. Such art could be done by a child or a professional adult illustrator.
In its primary sense the term was created by Franz Cižek (1865–1946) in the 1890s. The term “child art” also has a parallel and different usage in the world of contemporary fine art, where it refers to a subgenre of artists who depict children in their works.
Stages of Child Art:
As the child develops, their art passes through a number of stages. 4 of them were for the first time defined by E. Cooke, under influence of Herbert Spencer’s evolutionary theory.
Children’s painting development follows the following pattern (the ages are not absolute and valid for each child, as some children skip individual stages in the development of their pictorial utterances, or at times fall back to an earlier one):
From about their first birthday children achieve the fine motor control to handle a crayon. At first they scribble. The youngest child scribbles with a series of left and right motions, later up, down and then circular motions are added. The child appears to get considerable pleasure from watching the line or the colours appear. Often however children do not pay attention to the edges of the page and the lines go beyond the confines of the page. Children are often also interested in body painting and, given the opportunity, will draw on their hands or smear paint on their faces.
Until the age of about 18 months, children like to “work” liquid or mushy substances without worrying about the results.
Later, from about their second birthday, controlled scribbling starts. Children produce patterns of simple shapes: circles, crosses and star-bursts. They also become interested in arrangement and can produce simple collages of coloured paper, or place stones in patterns. Once children have established controlled scribbling they begin to name their scribbles.
As soon as children are able to hold and guide a pen or the like, that is, from about one year of age, the scribble phase begins. First, the movement is still mainly from the shoulder joint (so-called Hiebkritzeln, about 12-16 months), which leaves individual, indiscriminate strokes on the scribbled surface, then from the elbow joint (oscillating scribbles, about 16-22 months), resulting in dense strokes leading in both directions (ie from bottom left to top right and back again), then from the wrist. This makes it possible to circle in circles that leave behind tangles. This phase is reached at around 21 – 23 months. The children are now also able to lift the pen and then set it up again, so leave separate structures on the ground. Around the third year of life, when a closed circle or straight lines can be drawn, the scribble phase ends. The children now start about two and a half years to comment on and name their drawings. First representation intentions can be recognized. From the age of three also come the zigzag scribble and isolated circular scribbles.
From about age three, the child begins to combine circles and lines to make simple figures. At first, people are drawn without a body and with arms emerging directly from the head. The eyes are often drawn large, filling up most of the face, and hands and feet are omitted. At this stage it may be impossible to identify the subject of the art without the child’s help.
The first figures on children’s drawings, which are something recognizable for adults, are the so-called “cephalopods”. They consist of a circle with bulbous or tentacle-like structures that protrude in all directions – the so-called probing body. Although it resembles sun depictions on later pictures of children, it is rather seen as an expression of the current developmental situation of the child itself, which experiences in all directions and expands its horizons. Later, the number of attached limbs is limited to two to four, and a schematic face is inserted into the circle. The reason why these early human portrayals are missing the trunk regularly, although many younger children already know that there is a stomach, and can show this to themselves and others, is controversial. Towards the end of the cephalopod phase, even if the stick figures develop, other forms, such as rectangles, are included in the repertoire, so that now also other image content can be displayed as just the “primitive creatures”.
Later drawings from this stage show figures drawn floating in space and sized to reflect the child’s view of their importance. Most children at this age are not concerned with producing a realistic picture.
From the age of four, children begin to compose their images more strongly. You now work with coordinate lines such. As a dash or bar, the sky, and another, which represents the ground, pay attention to differentiation and details such. As curtains or eyelashes and relate numerous objects in the image to each other. The color choice is now made aware.
After the construction stages, the scribble phase and the pre-school phase, the basic graphic characteristics of the persons and objects are worked out between the fifth and the seventh year of life. During this time, the child’s drawing is still richer in details and links, but there are no fundamentally new events more.
To describe these manifestations of children’s drawings, Bühler used the term “work maturity”. The border zone of work maturity marks the beginning of representational and expressive tendencies, which continue in the course of development. The individualization and refinement of the image concept is shown by the fact that the children’s drawing around the school entrance to unmistakable wins and each child forms his very specific, based on his own experiences form variants and image concepts as results of individual development. As a result of the individualization of artistic activity, the child’s drawing gains in expression and message content. The child increasingly discovers the possibilities of the means of representation to designate the subject graphically, and adapts motifs and organizational structure of his image according to emotional and motivational statement.
A next characteristic is the clarification of the message content. The child becomes aware of the communicative power of his drawings and registers the observer’s intention to understand and readiness. If it does not feel understood in its message, it can lead to a reorganization of the image motifs. During this time, the qualities of the child’s drawing emerge, which constitute the constitution of the phenomenon.
In this stage of a child’s development, they create a vocabulary of images. Thus when a child draws a picture of a cat, they will always draw the same basic image, perhaps modified (this cat has stripes that one has dots, for example). This stage of drawing begins at around age five. The basic shapes are called symbols or schema.
Typical of the following Schemaphase I, which occurs approximately in the age of five to eight, are the “X-ray images” which depict several layers of the object, although this would actually be opaque. So you can see in these pictures z. B. a house at the same time from the outside and from the inside or the body outline under the clothes. The proportions of the objects are often not yet captured realistically, but depend on the significance of the subject for the child.
Each child develops his/her own set of symbols, which are based on their understanding of what is being drawn rather than on observation. Each child’s symbols are therefore unique to the child. By this age, most children develop a “person” symbol which has a properly defined head, trunk and limbs which are in some sort of rough proportion.
Before this stage the objects that child would draw would appear to float in space, but at about five to six years old the child introduces a baseline with which to organize their space. This baseline is often a green line (representing grass) at the bottom of the paper. The figures stand on this line. Slightly older children may also add secondary baselines for background objects and a skyline to hold the sun and clouds.
It is at this stage that cultural influences become more important. Children not only draw from life, but also copy images in their surroundings. They may draw copies of cartoons. Children also become more aware of the story-telling possibilities in a picture. The earliest understanding of a more realistic representation of space, such as using perspective, usually comes from copying.
As children mature they begin to find their symbols limiting. They realize that their schema for a person is not flexible enough, and just doesn’t look like the real thing. At this stage, which begins at nine or ten years old, the child will lend greater importance to whether the drawing looks like the object being drawn.
From the age of about eight to the completion of development at about the age of twelve, the children begin to strive for realistic proportions and the representation of three-dimensional space. Typical for this development step are so-called steep or horizon images on which more distant objects can be seen smaller and higher up in the image than objects that should be in the foreground. Approximately ten-year-olds try to make perspective drawings of furniture, for example; even later, the bird’s eye view is occasionally chosen, so that also floor plans u. Ä. Can be drawn. At the end of this phase, children often tend to caricature and ironicize – perhaps out of dissatisfaction with their attempts to make things realistically.
This can be a frustrating time for some children, as their aspirations outstrip their abilities and knowledge. Some children give up on drawing almost entirely. However others become skilled, and it is at this stage that formal artistic training can benefit the child most. The baseline is dropped and the child can learn to use rules such as perspective to organize space better. Story-telling also becomes more refined and children will start to use formal devices such as the comic strip.
Children have relationships with people they like differently than relationships with people they do not like. Children draw positive relationships closer to one’s own person than negative ones. Positive relationships smile more frequently in the pictures. Children also make people who they like more complex than people they do not like. The sun is more common on positive pictures. The children also often use their favorite colors on the positive relationship pictures. However, the pictures do not differ in their color joy in itself.
Art therapy can be an effective way for children to develop and connect with their emotions. Some children with autism have found that drawing can help them to express feelings that they have difficulty expressing otherwise. Similarly children who have faced horrors such as war can find it difficult to talk about what they have experienced directly. Art can help children come to terms with their emotions in these situations.
After visiting a children’s art display in San Francisco in the 1980s, educator John Holt stated that, “…An understanding of adultism might begin to explain what I mean when I say that much of what is known as children’s art is an adult invention.”