The development of a person can be traced on different levels. One of such levels is people’s ability to draw and the attitude to drawing. It goes without saying that if a person is drawing a bit worse than Leonardo da Vinci it is possible to speak about his/her mental disorders. Neither can we conclude that a person’s development is slow if the person does not like drawing.
However, the majority of scholars admit that drawings can be used as the reflection of person’s perception and behavior. As far as I am concerned, I should point out that drawing played an important role in my early and middle childhood since I liked drawing and devoted considerable amount of time to that activity. Interestingly, to date I can consider my psychological development on the basis of my child preferences.
Once I thought I was a very creative child, but now I should admit that I was one of many revealing common developmental patterns. Nevertheless, I can still assume that I am quite creative since I found some peculiarities in my drawing ability development. Of course, to consider these peculiarities it is necessary to start with the beginning of my artistic enthusiasm.
Admittedly, all children start drawing development with scribbling imitating the activity (writing, drawing, etc.) of adults (Eng, 1999). Unfortunately, there is not much information about my early period (obviously, I do not remember that time), but few spoiled books which are still in my parents’ possession can justify that I started drawing like any other normal child, scribbling.
Moreover, it is important to add that my scribbling was initially placed in the center of the sheet of paper like in many other cases (Eng, 1999). However, my drawing skills developed and soon I started revealing distinct objects.
At this point I would like to stress that according to Eng (1999) many children should be motivated to draw, whereas others start drawing without any instructions and requests which can be explained by “inherited aptitude for graphical expression, and inborn tendencies” (102). I pertain to the second group which is the first peculiarity of my drawing abilities development.
Thus, the second period of my development can be characterized by two dimensional drawings of various objects: plants, animals and human figures. According to Malchiodi (1998) children at the age of 5-10 years draw in the same way (which is simple and ingenious) and after the age 10-11 years children start drawing in more, so to speak, sophisticated way paying more attention to details and realistic representation of objects. Thus, up to the age of eight I also draw quite simple pictures.
Trees, flowers, animals and people I drew were only schematically similar to the real life objects. It is necessary to point out that I tried to make the objects more real, but those were quite insufficient measures. Bremner (1999) revealed the common viewpoint that children only represent “a poorly developed version of the adult form” and usually are pushed by adults in the right “direction” (501).
This must be the case for my drawing ability development. In the first hand, I always wanted to draw in a realistic way and from the age of five started copying pictures from journals and books. Eventually, my parents noticed my inclinations and I started attending extracurricular activity – drawing lessons.
After several classes I learnt some basic rules and started implementing them while drawing. Soon I ceased attending the classes and just drew for my pleasure. Thus, I obtained some techniques from adults and this, to certain extent, proves Bremner’s point about the influence of adults. I started trying to draw three dimensional pictures at the age of eight which quite coincides with the theory depicted by Malchiodi.
The further development of my drawing abilities was determined by copying other works. I tried to understand how this or that can be drawn by looking at drawings of professionals and trying to copy their works. Eventually, I started drawing my own images using the techniques I obtained by copying. At this point I would like to consider the arrangement of objects on my pictures.
Initially, I draw objects in the centre of the sheet of paper. However, very soon I started using the entire surface available for drawing different supplementary objects. Eng (1999) pays much attention to objects arrangements and stresses that synthesis is “a leading characteristic of a child’s thinking and talking, indeed of its whole mental life” (135).
Thus, according to Eng (1999) children who reveal the lack of synthesis in their drawings in their middle childhood are likely to have some mental disorders. Fortunately, I can assume that my development was absolutely normal and I can characterize my pictures by the necessary amount of synthesis. Moreover, I would like to point out that I tried to make each drawing as complete as it was possible. This peculiarity leads to another stage of my drawing development.
After the age of eight I started drawing not only single objects but revealed whole stories. Of course, at school I draw what I was told to depict. However, when I had spare time at home I liked drawing a story. It was a kind of comics without boxes and words, just pictures revealing significant events in the story. In the majority of cases the drawings depicted fairy tales, but I often invented my own stories and tales. This can be regarded as my peculiarity since not many children like drawing stories but rather depict some event or image.
In my childhood drawing stories was just for fun, but now I assume that those pictures could be examples of project drawing excessively used nowadays in psychological surveys. Moreover, my story drawing became one more prove of Malchiodi’s (1998) concerns about the interpretation of project drawings, especially children’s project drawings.
Thus, it is very hard to define objective reasons for child’s having drawn this or that object in this or that particular way. The child’s drawing does not necessarily reveal the situation at home (depicted symbolically) or previous experiences of a child.
A drawing can depict a story/tale once heard and/or child’s interpretation of the story/tale. Apart from this, I would like to note that separate objects in the drawing (clothes, accessories, etc), shape and color can be not a symbol of a certain disorder or mental peculiarity, but a simple copying what was once seen. For instance, a child could see the tree depicted in the book and decide that it was beautiful (or the child could hear from adults or peers that the tree was beautiful).
So, it is but natural that the child wants to draw something beautiful and copies the model accepted by him as ideal. These conclusions come to my mind in terms of my own drawing experience. Perhaps, my cotemporary drawings will enable me to understand some of my psychological peculiarities as well as my childhood drawing experience helped me to trace my psychological development on that very level.
In conclusion, it is possible to point out that my drawing ability development proves the major theories of child’s (normal) development. I, just as any other child, started scribbling and then developed the necessary skills to create more sophisticated drawings. Thus, scribbling was substituted by two dimensional objects, which in their turn transformed into three dimensional images.
Apart from drawing technique, the drawing development is also characterized by the peculiarities of objects arrangements. Children start drawing single objects in the center of the drawing surface at early age and when they become older start arranging the objects more deliberately. Drawings of children in their middle childhood are characterized by synthesis. If the synthesis does not emerge, certain mental disorders and distortion of development are observed.
Taking into account these aspects (drawing technique, arrangement, synthesis) I can assume that my development was normal. Of course, I can also state that I was quite creative child characterized by certain uniqueness (at least in terms of my childhood drawing ability) since I developed ,so to speak, sophisticated drawing techniques quite early, was eager to draw without any stimuli and started creating complete stories instead of depicting single objects.
Bremner, J.G. (1999). Children’s Drawings and the Evolution of Art. In Lock, A. and Peters, C.R. (Eds.), Handbook of Human Symbolic Evolution (501-518). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Eng, H. (1999). The Psychology of Children’s Drawings: From the First Stroke to the Coloured Drawing. London: Routledge.
Malchiodi, C.A. (1998). Understanding Children’s Drawings. New York: Guilford Press.