a granddaughter’s art (which I treasure!)
Excerpt from Art Therapy by Eve C. Jarboe:
The scribbling stage appears at about eighteen months to two years of age. According to most researchers, this scribble is not just aimless motion created at random by the child, but demonstrates an awareness of pattern and growing hand-eye coordination. (Silk & Thomas, 1990; Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1987)
Soon after children start scribbling, they will start to name what it was they drew after they have finished drawing it. Around two years of age, children will sometimes label their drawing before they have started working on it, but if the drawing looks like something else to them, they may just change the label. Their scribbles progressively become more recognizable and separate shapes appear on the same page. At around three and a half years, children begin incorporating details like fingers on hands. (Silk & Thomas, 1990; Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1987)
The next stage of drawing, identified by Lowenfeld as the “Pre-Schematic” stage, typically occurs between four and seven years. In the emergence of this stage, children may draw a human figure with a circle and two dangling lines for legs. Sometimes they include a rectangular shape for trunks of bodies, and often little marks inside the circle to represent facial features. This tadpole schema is used for animals as well as people. Drawings at this level are often described as symbolic realism because a child is perfectly happy with a simple symbol of an object. (Silk & Thomas, 1990; Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1987)
The “Schematic” stage of drawing generally occurs at ages 7-9. Some characteristics that commonly occur in this stage are indicative of what the child is thinking versus what is actually seen by the child. An interesting phenomenon that occurs in many children’s drawings during this stage is called “x-ray drawing”. In these, a child will draw things that aren’t really visible in life. A good example of this is a man on a horse with both legs showing, even though we would really only see one. Pregnant women are often shown with a visible baby in their abdomens. Details like hands, fingers, and clothing are added with greater and greater frequency. (Silk & Thomas, 1990) As they progress further, overlapped objects, such as a tree partially obscured by the edge of a house, also emerge. The farther away something is, the smaller it will be portrayed, regardless of the real relationship in size between the objects. This indicates a growing comprehension of perspective. In many cases, children have begun using one-point perspective. (Silk & Thomas, 1990; Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1987)
“Dawning Realism” Stage
Around the age of nine or ten, children’s drawings become increasingly standardized. An emphasis on depicting how things really look can begin to frustrate them. This is referred to as the “Gang Age” or “Dawning Realism.” Children will often bring comic strip figures or commercial logos into their drawings and it is at this point that many children lose interest in drawing, as they become dissatisfied with their results. Adults often draw at this level or slightly below because this is where they ended their art education.