1. First Drawings of a Very Young Child

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 first article), as well as Some Theory, Tips for teaching drawing to a very young child, and a growing bibliography.

Amie’s drawings at 16 months

  • Uncontrolled, brittle scribbles

Amie became interested in drawing about four months ago, when she was 16 months old. From the beginning it was a motor experience. It was the movement of her hand and arm that interested her, not the result on the paper. Often she would “draw” something while looking somewhere else altogether.

She made uncertain, thin, spidery lines, most of the time putting little pressure on the crayon. She used her left and right hand indiscriminately (her Mama is left-handed, her Baba right-handed), didn’t hold the crayon very securely, and was only interested for 5 minutes, tops.

It was (and still is) also a tactile experience for Amie: she is very interested in feeling with her fingertips the wax of the crayons on the paper.

  • No naming yet

At first, when asked what it was she had drawn (a nono, see tips below), she would say it was “happy”. She was always drawing “happy”.

This is her very first drawing, with a black roller pen in my Moleskine journal:

Amie’s drawing of 15 January 2006

She claimed the scribbles were “B” and “A,” but I doubt she was serious. When I asked her a couple of minutes later, she didn’t recognize them as A or B.  I wish I had written more comments on this, but I only noted the date.

Her first crayon drawing was made on 5 January 2007:

Amie’s Drawing of January 2007

The face, the flower, the mm and the g-like swirl were made by her Baba. The couple of lines and the “cloud” of soft scribbles are Amie’s.

Unfortunately, as this was made at daycare, I don’t know how to orient the drawing, or which hand she used. It does look, though, like she had good fun with it.

  • Stages of Drawing

On the net and in the literature, you will find several schemes of “Stages of Drawing”. Here you can find an illustrated overview.

This is a good digest by Christine Belinda on Better Kid Care (in “See, Scribble, and Print:  Encouraging Young Children to Make their Mark”):

  1. 3 mos. – 1 year: observe writing and drawings by others, develops ideas of how to make marks with tools
  2. 1 ½ – 2 years: uncontrolled scribbling, uses tools to mark with, has little control, often looks elsewhere when drawing
  3. 18 mos. – 3 years: controlled scribbling, repeats certain lines, patterns, simple geometric shapes (circles) begin to appear
  4. 3 – 4 years: pre-schematic stage, shows symbols, attempts at people and representation, pictures that tell stories, more complexity, great variation in abilities
  5. 5 – 6 years: schematic stage, begins to write and draw on the same page, tells stories, portrays objects, includes letters and numbers, order in spatial relationships, such as tree coming out of the ground

I would say that, so far, Amie is following this process fairly closely.

Next up: circles! And a coloring book: was that a mistake? Read on.

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