5. Explosion of Color

This is an article in the series “Drawing as it develops“, which includes a study of my daughter Amie’s drawings from 16 months onwards (this is the fifth article in that sequence), as well as Some Theory, Tips for teaching drawing to a very young child, and a growing bibliography.

  • Amie at 20 months: Representation becomes a side-issue

Up to this point, the colorfulness of Amie’s drawings was due primarily to my encouragment. Orange was the one that appealed to her most and the first one she could name with confidence.  In any case, when she was 20 months old,  representation was much more important to her: she spent a couple of days intensely drawing “airplanes”. You can read all about this stage in article 4.

I believe this short representational burst was a fluke discovery, and too early in the normal development of a child’s drawing anyway. She soon lost interest in it, reverting back to the old (ad hoc) way of naming her drawings, or naming everything “airplane”, if she named them at all. Besides the occasional “rainbow,” she didn’t try to systematically represent any other objects.

  • Colors and their names

At the end of that atypical and short representational period, color burst upon the center stage. She made the following drawing on 4 May:

Color drawing (crayon) by Amie 4 May 07

The more the colors appealed to her visually, the more she became engrossed in learning their names. Whereas earlier it had taken her a while to learn “orange” and “white”, she now it picked up new names very rapidly. By 4 May she could name most of the colors in her crayon box, the most notable exceptions being yellow, blue and green.

“Yellow,” I suspect, was difficult to pronounce and probably sounds pretty strange too. When I ask of yellow what color it is, she answered “blue”. As for blue and green: I think she couldn’t readily distinguish between them. When I asked: “what color is that?” she would either stare and half-smile, indicating she wanted me to answer my own question, or she would blurt out the first color (blue or green) that came to mind.

6 May:

Amie’s color crahyon drawing of around 4 May 07  Amie’s crayon drawing of 6 May 07

By 7 May she could instantly and correctly distinguish and name violet, red, pink and orange, but still no green, blue, and yellow.

  • Other things to do

After about a week of coloring, I had the feeling that Amie lost interest in drawing. When asked if she wanted to draw, she no longer sat down with me to draw one full sheet after another. Spontaneous trips to the drawing table became rarer and the stays shorter. Still, she would once in a while produce intense drawings like these, from the second week of May (forgot to date them!):

Amie’s crayon drawing of second week May 07  Amie’s crayon drawing of scond week of May 07

At daycare she loved the Silky crayons, with which she started laying thick patches of vibrant color (9 May):

Amie’s crayon drawing of 9 May 2007

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