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ART 3112 Lecturer: Michael Khan

Growth Patterns and Characteristics

Intellectual Growth
The intellectual development of children can be readily seen in their drawings. How
aware children are of their surroundings, the amount of knowledge that is actively used, and
their ability to portray relationships to the environment are all indicators of intellectual
development. The use of details and awareness of the environment both change with age. A
child who lags behind in developing concepts and awareness of the environment may show
a lack of intellectual growth. For example, a child who at the age of seven draws like a five
year old may in fact have the intellectual abilities of a five year old. But there may be other
factors involved. Sometimes it may be merely a lack of involvement in a particular drawing. Or
there may be emotional restrictions that block the child’s expression. However, usually a
drawing full of details, reflecting a child’s awareness of the world, indicates a child of high
intellectual ability.
Intelligence is usually defined as the ability to think in rational ways, to deal
effectively with one’s environment, and to learn the kinds of things expected in school. If a
child has difficulty communicating to an adult, because of language differences or because of
some verbal handicap, a drawing test is often used. Te best known measure of mental maturity is
the ‘Draw-A-Man’ test (Harris, 1963). There is substantial documentation for the validity of this
Children are provided a pencil and a sheet of white paper and told to make a picture of a man, to
make the very best picture that they can, and to make the whole man, not just his head and
shoulders. Most test givers today modify the instructions, asking the child to draw a person. The
finished drawing is scored basically on the number of details included and is compared with the
typical drawing for any particular age. Apparently, the development of artistic ability closely
parallels a child’s intellectual growth up to the age of ten years (Burkhart, 1967). The importance
that parents and sometimes teachers place upon intelligence tests is often not warranted.
Environmental conditions, social factors and emotional and psychological variables can all affect
a child’s intellectual functioning.
Although drawings can reflect a child’s intellectual growth, drawings can also stimulate
and encourage that growth. Matoba (1985) has called art a tool for critical thinking, a basic skill
for children’s reasoning. Everyone functions with a storehouse of passive knowledge, the
knowledge that we use to move from place to place, to recognize objects and people, and to
provide us with the necessities of life. However, few of us take active notice of a particular tree,
the arrangement of food on our plates, the shape of the crack in the sidewalk in front of us, or
even the number of buttons on the coat that we may put on daily. When a child draws a picture
and is actively aware of the environment, these details become important; the tree becomes a
particular tree in front of a certain house, and the correct number of buttons on a shirt is
important. Art can contribute a great deal to intellectual growth.

Physical Growth
Physical growth is seen in children’s visual and motor coordination, in the way they
control their bodies, guide their lines, and perform skills. The changing physical growth
can be easily observed in children at the scribbling stage, when the marks on the paper
change from a few random marks to a controlled scribbling within a relatively short period
of time. Also, the desire to make more refined and minute changes in sculptural form can
develop motor skills very rapidly in adolescence.

Not only the physical involvement in creative activities, but also the conscious and
unconscious projection of the body indicates physical growth. This projection of self into the
picture is usually referred to as body imagery. Essentially, the physically active child will
portray active motions and will develop a greater sensitivity to physical achievements. Often
the unconscious presence of muscular tensions or body feelings will also be portrayed.
Sometimes children with impairments will project these into their creative work. The ear that
aches or the knee that has been scrapped will be given emphasis. Continued emphasis or
omissions of body parts may reflect a physical condition.

Perceptual Growth
The cultivation and growth of the senses are important parts of an art experience.
This is of vital importance, for the enjoyment of life and the ability to learn may depend
upon the meaning and quality of sensory experiences. In creative activity, increased
perceptual growth can be seen in children’s increasing awareness and use of a variety of

ART 3112 Lecturer: Michael Khan

perceptual experiences. Visual observation is usually the most emphasized in an art experience,
with a developing sensitivity toward color, form and space. Young children’s paintings indicate
enjoyment and recognition of color, whereas on the advanced level the ever-changing
relationships of color on different lights and atmospheric conditions can be stimulating.
Perceptual growth is a growing sensitivity to tactile and pressure sensations, from the mere
kneading of clay and touching of textures to sensitive reactions to clay modeling in sculpture
and the enjoyment of different surface and textural qualities in a variety of art forms.
Perceptual growth also includes the complex area of space perception. A young child
knows and understands the immediate areas, which has personal significance. As the child grows
the surrounding space also grows, and the way it is perceived will change. Auditory experiences
are often included in art expression, ranging from mere awareness of sounds to sensitive
reactions to musical experiences. Kinesthetic experiences that range from simple, uncontrolled
body movements to highly developed coordination can also be seen as the basis for a variety of
art forms. Space, shape, colors, textures, kinesthetic sensations and visual experiences include a
great variety of stimuli for expression. Children who are rarely affected by perceptual
experiences show little ability to observe and little awareness of differences in objects.
Awareness of variations in color, differences in shapes and forms, smoothness and
roughness, sensitivity to light and dark are all part of the creative experience. Inability to
utilize perceptual experiences may indicate a lack of growth on other areas. The teacher
must play an important part in developing in youngsters the eagerness to see and feel and touch
their surroundings and in providing a wide range of experiences in which the senses play an
important part.

Social Growth
The social growth of youngsters can readily be seen in their creative work. Drawings
and paintings reflect the degree of identification they have with their own experiences of
others. Usually, the first recognizable object drawn by a child is a person. Child art reflects
a growing awareness of people, as shown by the large percentage of subject matter devoted
to social activities.
The art process itself provides a means of social growth. Expressing the self on a sheet of
paper also means viewing that expression. This viewing and looking at one’s work and one’s
own work and one’s own ideas is a first step in communicating these thoughts and ideas to
others. Art has often been thought of primarily as a means of communication, and as much it
becomes a social rather than a personal expression. The drawing can then become an extension
of self out into the world of reality as it begins to encompass others in the viewing of the subject
matter. This feeling of social consciousness is the beginning of an understanding of the larger
world of which the child is a part. Drawing the fireman, the road crew repairing a hole, the nurse
helping people in the hospital, or the policeman giving directions all provides stimuli to develop
this social awareness. The arts can also contribute, through cooperative work, to a greater
awareness of each individual’s contribution to a large project. This is particularly effective when
the opinions of peers are sought and when the need is developed for social interdependence. It is
important to stress the significance of the individual’s ability to live cooperatively in society.
Children need to have the opportunity to assume responsibility for their own actions. A drawing
of some cooperative activity or group game enables a youngster to see the part each person
plays and to identify with other’s actions. Creative activities provide an excellent means for
taking this important step.
For older children, the art of other cultures provides a means by which a society or a
people can be felt and understood. Studying the variety of contemporary art from today’s
cultures can give indications of the attitudes and feelings of these artists. One investigation,
examining the drawings by children from a variety of societies, indicated that group values can
readily be seen in children’s drawings of men (Dennis, 1966).

Aesthetic Growth
Aesthetic growth is often considered the basic ingredient of any art experience.
Aesthetic can be defined as the means of organizing thinking, feeling and perceiving into an
expression that communicates these thoughts and feeling to someone else. The organization of
words we call prose or poetry; the organization of tones we call music; the organization of
body movements is usually referred to as dance; and the organization of lines, shapes, color
and form make up art. There are no set standards for aesthetics; rather; the aesthetic criteria
are based on the individual, the particular work of art, the culture in which it is made, and the
intent or purpose behind the art form. There is a tremendous variety of organization in art.
Aesthetic form is not created by the imposition of any external rule; rather a creative work grows

ART 3112 Lecturer: Michael Khan

by its own principles. Our concern here is not a formal study of the abstract principle of art, but
rather a study of the manner in which children develop a cohesive framework in their art.
In the creative products of children, aesthetic growth develops naturally and is shown by
a sensitive ability to integrate experiences into a cohesive whole. Aesthetic is also intimately
tied to personality. Painters are recognized by their organization of colors and forms; a Van
Gogh can be picked out anywhere by one who is familiar with his style of organization.
Education can be therefore be looked upon as the development of aesthetic behavior. The thesis
that art should be the basis of education has been pursued in depth by Herber Read (1958).
Aesthetic development is certainly an integral part of education.

Creative Growth
Creative growth shows as soon as the child begins to make marks, inventing forms
and putting down something personal in a way that is unique. Within the drawings and
paintings of children, creative growth can be readily seen in an independent and
imaginative approach to the work of art. Children do not have to be skillful in order to be
creative, but in any form of creation there are degrees of emotional freedom; freedom to
explore and experiment and freedom to become involved. This is true both in the use of
subject matter and in the use of art materials. Art experiences have always been considered
the basis of creative activity within the schools.
Those children who have been inhabited in their creativity by rules or forces unrelated to
themselves may retreat or resort to copying or tracing. They may quickly adopt styles from
others, constantly ask for help, or follow examples of work that has been produced by their
peers. Needless to say, the mere command to stop copying and become creative
accomplishments nothing. Creativity cannot be imposed but must come from the child. Both the
process and the product reflect the youngster’s creative growth.

Source: Taken from creative and Mental Growth by Victor Lowenfeld and Lambert Brittain.
(Eight edition)