- Drawing and cognitive development
- Viktor Lowenfeld’s stages of creative development
- Why learn to draw? Top five reasons
Expressing yourself through creativity and learning how to visualise your own ideas is hugely important and rewarding. Drawing is good for our emotional wellbeing, helps us to develop a whole host of skills and can enhance our career prospects too. So, is it easy to learn how to draw? And if so, can anyone learn to draw? Let's take a look at the importance of mark-making and answer the question: ‘why learn to draw at all?’ 🖍️
Drawing and cognitive development
Children need no encouragement when it comes to drawing. The innate desire to make marks and create pictures seems to transcend location, background, gender and wealth. Across countries and societies – regardless of what materials are available – children create images and visual scenes. So, can you learn to draw at any age? And is your child the next best artist? 🧑🎨
Children learn to draw step by step, at home and in school. From as young as 12 months old they spend hours engrossed in coloring and doodling – a creative habit that continues throughout childhood – something that many psychologists believe grants us a fascinating insight into human personality, emotion and mental development.
Drawing can enhance children’s spatial awareness, promote confident self-expression and even help them to regulate difficult emotions at times. Notoriously uninhibited, they can exhibit remarkable creativity as they work out how to represent the world around them in two dimensions. 🧠
Psychologist Lev Vygotsky wrote that drawing is “part of a symbolic communication system that includes speaking, reading, and writing as it unfolds through development.” So, in a very real sense, children’s creative mark-making bridges the gap between doodles and writing.
Viktor Lowenfeld’s stages of creative development
Viktor Lowenfeld's 1947 Creative and Mental Growth is widely regarded as one of the most influential textbooks in art education. Lowenfeld believed that evidence of aesthetic, social, physical, intellectual and emotional growth is reflected in the art of children. 🎨
He further developed a theory of stages in artistic development as follows:
Between the ages of 2 and 4 years old, children go through a process of understanding that their physical actions can and do have an impact on the marks they make. Initially, this kinaesthetic activity starts as random scribbles and then develops into a more controlled activity.
From around 4 to 7 years of age, children begin to use shapes and symbols to explore relationships and their environment.
Between the ages of 7 and 9, children develop a ‘schema’, or consistent way of portraying certain objects or scenes and they learn to draw people in a way that visually represents their knowledge or understanding of them. They spend time thinking about ‘how can you draw something that means home?’ and alike.
From around 9 to 12 years of age, children begin to focus on details and a more realistic representation in their drawings. They begin to want to learn how to draw and become more conscious of their peers’ artistic output too.
Between the ages of 12 and 14, children become more concerned with the final product and how much their drawings look like the thing they may be trying to represent as well as whether it is ‘good’ or pleasing to peers and parents.
Period of decision/crisis
From around 14 to 17 years of age – the adolescent stage – images that children are creating start to become highly individualised and they must make a conscious effort in order to continue drawing and engaging in visual thinking. Questions arise around ‘can you learn to draw well?’ and ‘how long will it take you to get there?’
Why learn to draw? Top five reasons
Firstly, it may be worth asking yourself the question ‘why do you draw?’ Children aren’t so different from adults and you might surprise yourself with the answer.
As discussed, children and their drawing skills develop from a very early age and contribute to their overall emotional and academic development. Here’s a breakdown of the top five reasons to help your child to learn to draw & paint. ✏️
#1 Boost motor skills and coordination
While drawing, children strengthen the muscles in their hands, fingers, shoulders and arms all of which help with the development of their hand-eye coordination and general dexterity.
#2 Extends concentration
Once they are past the scribbling stage, children begin to plan what they intend to draw on the paper, where to place objects and how to work with negative space. Naturally, kids extend their concentration span as they pay closer attention for longer periods of time.
#3 Teaches creative problem solving
Along with enhancing visual analysis and extending concentration, drawing encourages children to think outside the box. Drawing poses creative problems including how to depict 3-dimensional objects, portray emotions or represent textures. 🤔
#4 Enhances imagination
Children access their own imaginations through drawing and image-making. Given the opportunity, they use this creative output to tell stories and visualise what they see in their mind's-eye. These skills are hugely relevant to creative careers as well as careers in literature, science, technology and engineering.
#5 Healthy emotional release and expression
The act of drawing can benefit children’s emotional well-being. Whether they draw a scenario of a problem in their lives or just fill the page with expressive colours, communicating their emotions through creativity is safe and healthy. 🙌