Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Feelings Revealed in Children’s Art

For 35 years, one of the children’s art specialists has been collecting the art of young children and using it to explore the interior world of childhood feelings. Her collection, sampled on these pages, shows the amazing range of information about a child’s state of mind that the youngster’s art can yield. Painting and drawing come as naturally to young children as speaking. The act if guiding a crayon or paintbrush across paper not only is fun, it is a satisfying means of self-expression as well. Art lets children communicate feelings their limited vocabulary can not convey-hopes and fears, pleasures and anxieties and opinions. But the messages, as in all art, are given in code and may be hard to decipher.

 A picture’s real meaning often lies beyond its subject matter and technique. Young children tend to draw the same things-houses, trees, people, vehicles, animals, the sun and to draw in similar ways. They also typically exaggerate and distort, production bodies with limbs too long or fingers too numerous. Generally, the best guide to a picture’s meaning is the child’s own commentary. The remarks here were prompted by questions from the teachers in whose classes the drawings were made. Significantly, the questions were never as direct as “What are you drawing?” or “Is this a house?” - but rather, “Would you like to tell me something about this painting?” Children who decline such invitations to explain, however, should never be pushed. It is far more important to let a child enjoy the immediate pleasure of creation than to discover what the picture may mean.