According to Betty Edwards (Creative and Mental Growth), most of the children I teach are in “The Stage of Symbols”: after weeks of scribbling, children make the discovery of art, that a drawn symbol can stand for a real thing in the environment. Circular form becomes a universal symbol for almost anything. Later symbols become more complex, reflecting child’s observations on the world around him.
I’m blown away watching these developments happen. Guiding a closer observation of the physical world, watching a definitive change occur in the way a child holds a crayon or a marker and adjusting the movements they make to create a different mark- it’s incredible.
I love those Smuckers commericals, the ones where the little kids try to “bottle” the smell of strawberries in the field to save the smell forever. That’s exactly how I feel about this early stage of art making. I wish I could bottle the expression on their faces when they realize and actually see the change in their own mark making abilities. This is true exploration of process without interference from thinking about product.
We have been working on drawing our selves and our families to help show my littles how various marks can join together to make a more recognizable and complex shape, how the process of mark making can translate something they are thinking about in their heads or seeing with their eyes onto the paper in front of them.
This is a round of self portraits from my 3-5 year olds done using marker, oil pastel, and watercolor.
The following are a few drawings from our family portrait books that are still a work in progress. I’m careful, during these classes especially, not to draw examples for the kids. I don’t want to cause visual frustration, I don’t want any student to be upset that their drawing doesn’t look like mine (understandably common with this age group), and my goal is not for them to attempt to copy my shapes. I was focusing on individual exploration in mark making. Here were some of the results:
I’d like to return to these portraits and family drawings later in the year to show the littles how much their skills have grown and how different their abilities have become.