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A Childs Drawing Analysis

Ellen Braverman
University of Missouri

A Childs Drawing Analysis
Children tell their stories through their artwork by creating pictures that represent
something important in their lives. They create these stories to exemplify who they are.
Teachers should view childrens art as a story and try to understand what that story is to get more
insight into what these children can create and who they are. By figuring out this information,
teachers can then help students deepen their artistic skills and hopefully create a more
meaningful story as they develop.
Children develop their artistic skills and abilities through different stages. Brittain and
Lowenfeld (1970) recognized the stages and gave them names pertaining to what was learned in
each stage (p. 47-52). The first stage is known as The Scribbling Stage. Students in this stage
are usually around ages two to four years old. The next stage is The Preschematic Stage which
normally is for children between the ages of four and seven. In this stage, children start to draw
more recognizable objects and start to relate their pieces in their drawings to each other. The
third stage is The Schematic Stage and this typically is for children around the ages between
seven and nine. Children within this stage start to make more of a concept with their drawings.
The next stage is The Gang Age which is for children around ages nine and twelve. These
children have a greater awareness of details and start to show depth within their pictures
(Brittain & Lowenfeld, 1970, p. 50). The fifth stage is known as The Pseudo-Naturalistic
Stage. Mostly children between twelve and fourteen years old are in this stage and they
understand the environment and use a lot of detail. The last stage is typically for children
between the ages of fourteen and seventeen years old and is called Adolescent Art. These
children have a conscious development of artistic skills (Brittain & Lowenfeld, 1970, p. 52).
Each of these phases of art explains the type of drawing and skill the children in these stages
might have.
It is important for teachers to know these stages because they can create their lesson plans
and information for students to know around these phases. If they know each stage and know
how to depict which student is in each, they will be able to teach them adequate information to
help them develop in that stage and have a deeper understanding to be a better artist. By
furthering their knowledge with art, they will become smarter students in general (Kisida,
Greene, & Bowen, 2013). Children that participate in the arts generally have a better
understanding of the world. By analyzing artwork, you can tell who a person is by the story they
tell with their art.
These stages help teachers form conclusions about where their students lie because of the
separate groups that have vivid examples (Brittain & Lowenfeld, 1970, p. 47-52). The Drawing
Characteristics group gives certain instances that the student may use in their drawing. The
Space Representation group explains how the student may use the area in the picture behind or
related to their drawings. The last group, known as Human Figure Representation, helps the
teacher determine the group the child might be in if the child included a human in their drawing.
I have chosen the artwork below and I will discuss which stage the child is in by comparing it to
the examples and characteristics in the theories by Brittain and Lowenfeld.
Description and Analysis

The drawing seems to have been created with black marker. It looks as though the
drawing is of a cat on the ground with possibly some birds and a sky. The sky was created with
different types of scribbles, which are displayed darker on the left side of the portrait. There are
two dark, shaded blobs in the middle of the picture but more towards the right. These blobs
could be interpreted as birds. The ground seems to be grass that is composed of lighter scribbles.
There is a dark black scribble just above the grass that could be seen as a part of the grass or
perhaps another animal starting to form. The cat itself has two black dots for eyes, triangles for
ears, whiskers, and a circle for a nose on its face. The body is a misshaped oval that is shaded in.
There are four legs that are closer to the front of the body than the back. The cat has loops on its
back in which could be seen as wings and the tail of the cat is faced downward.
By identifying all of these attributes on the drawing, I have placed this child in The
Preschematic Stage which is mainly for children ages four to seven years old, but not strictly for
these ages (Brittain & Lowenfeld, 1970, p. 48). The two black blobs that might be symbols for
birds could be removed from the picture and they would completely lose their meaning. The
Preschematic Stage explains that children in this stage tend to not relate objects in drawings to
each other. Since the objects seem to not really be related to each other, the child is most likely
in the earlier set of this stage. The sky seems to be floating, meaning the student does not quite
understand the concept of earth meeting sky and the point at which it does meet. Since the
student drew a picture primarily of a cat, he/she must have a strong relation to cats showing a
communication of the students self (Brittain & Lowenfeld, 1970, p. 48). The wings on the
cats back could be the child telling a story about flying cats. By analyzing this, teachers can see
the childs story and know more about he/she by looking into his/her imagination or ideas
through the childs art. By looking at the picture, it shares many characteristics of childrens
paintings of those in the Preschematic Stage of drawing.
This student does not quite understand components of art, including the relationships
between objects or how certain objects act in the world. This student does, however, know what
a cat looks like and where the cat should be placed. It is a little above the ground and not really
integrated into the picture but the student understands where it is supposed to be. The student
seems to be trying to involve more objects in the drawing but does not yet know what is to be
drawn in or possibly how to draw it. With the help of a teacher, the student may be able to take
the steps to include more detail and fewer scribbles in the drawing.
By knowing what stage the student is in, a teacher can help that student move past it
through knowledgeable guidance formatted to children in that stage. Erikson and Young (1996)
explained our students would judge us as unfair if we expected them to have knowledge and
skills they were never taught (p. 37). We need to organize our lesson plans around each stage
so that the student can learn in a way that coincides with their art capabilities. The students will
achieve more goals from us if we teach them lessons that further themselves throughout the
stages and makes them better artists.
Students make stories with their art, which capture context and emotions. Stories are a
way for people to understand the world around them and make sense of it (Pink, 2006, p. 103).
In order for students to tell intelligible stories with their art, they need instruction. They need to
be taught how to draw circles and stay in the lines on a page. Once they learn these simple
instructions, they can create their art and tell their stories.

Erickson, M., & Young, B. (1996). What every educator should (but maybe doesnt) know.
School Arts, 96 (2), 37.
Kisida, B., Greene, J. P., & Bowen, D. H. (2013). Art Makes You Smart. The New York Times.
Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/opinion/sunday/art-makes-you-
Lowenfeld, V., & Brittain, W. L. (1970). Creative and mental growth. New York: Macmillan,
Pink, D. H. (2006). A whole new mind: Why right-brainers will rule the future. New York,
NY:Riverhead Books, 103.