Artists in the Making

Art at Livingston StreetAs you know, at Livingston Street we have a class full of lively 3, 4, and 5 year old artists learning to express themselves visually with color, line and form. Children move through several stages of development when experimenting with art. The first stage, which appears as soon as a child can hold a writing instrument, is scribbling. While scribbles may look meaningless, the lines drawn are certain definite patterns that are repeated throughout a child’s particular artwork as he or she develops. Scribbling begins with side to side line, usually followed by up and down movement and then circular shapes emerge as the child develops. The changes in stroke show more controlled use of the writing utensil, and a tentative understanding of action and consequence. Scribbles are extremely important because they are the child’s first real experience in communication with line and they are a basis for pre-literacy/writing skills. To put it more bluntly, scribbles turn into handwriting. The more a child scribbles (and experiments with art), the better prepared he or she will be for reading and writing.

Livingston Street ArtThe scribbling stage is followed by the shape stage. The beginning of the shape stage looks similar to scribbles but there appear some clearer shapes embedded in the drawings. By age three, children typically enter into the phase of outlining the implied shapes. A child may draw circles, squares, X’s, and other shapes that are much more apparent.

Using what they have learned in previous stages, children between four and five years of age, arrive at the pictorial stage. Early drawings are usually figures of people. In early people drawings, the anatomy of the figure is not correct, with arms and legs coming out of a large head. Later drawings are more easily recognizable by adults and offer a more wide range of images, such as animals, houses, and landscape.[1]

Please note that while looking at all the paintings and drawings, each stage of development may be seen. Once a stage is mastered, it is not left behind. Earlier stages are repeated and built upon as the child develops. Livingston Street Art

[1] Rhoda Kellog, The Psychology of Children’s Art (New York: Random House, 1967).

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