Sep 01 2011

Drawing With Children

Published by at 12:45 am under 2011

A girlfriend popped by last week while Layla was doodling. After Layla was done, my friend looked at the drawing and said, “Shouldn’t the grass be green?”

This is why I haven’t sent Layla to art classes despite hearing rave reviews for schools like Wow Art. I just didn’t want someone insisting she draw or colour in a certain way.

But recently I picked up a library book, “Drawing With Children,” based on a recommendation by a homeschooling mom. In it, the author (an art teacher) addressed several “myths” about learning art.

Myth #5: Structured drawing lessons are inappropriate for children. They should develop their ability through free expression and exploration only.

We don’t expect children to play the piano, study dance, or learn a sport without showing them the basic components of these subjects. Why do we expect them to understand the complexities of drawing on their own? Imagine expecting children to write creative stories without teaching them the alphabet and the structure of language. Learning the language of drawing and painting is likewise essential for anyone wanting to pursue those arts creatively.

After reading the intro I thought the author made sense, and yesterday I decided to try one of her drawing exercises on Layla. It involved a simple drawing of a lion, and encouraging a child to reproduce the drawing by breaking down the picture into a collection of shapes.

I asked Layla to start by drawing the eyes. But first she had to pick a starting point on her paper that would leave her with enough space for the entire lion. After that, I pointed out the different shapes to her, but I didn’t correct her shapes and proportions. (The book’s instructions are more detailed, e.g. to place dotted lines or mark a point to help guide your kid.)

I fell asleep after she got the lion outline done, and she spent the next hour or so drawing more lions and filling up her paper.

Later in the night, after Layla was in bed, I tried out one of the exercises in the book and drew a horse!

It’s made me rethink my original stand on art instruction. But for now, we’ll make do with the book.

  • 3 responses so far

    3 Responses to “Drawing With Children”

    1. shawon 02 Sep 2011 at 12:13 am

      What a GORGEOUS drawing! And I love how Layla’s included Baby Z into it too. I actually prefer to let my kids just doodle whatever/ however they want. Although there’s nothing wrong with ‘art with instructions’, but for me and my kids, perhaps when they’re older. At pre-school or lower primary school age, I think it’s more fun to see what they come up with on their own. And it never fails to surprise or amuse me. At the mo, Lucas draws humans as ‘stick people’, and then, he draws the outline of their clothes over their stick bodies. He doesn’t like to colour, so he just leaves it like that, which means all his people look like they’re wearing transparent clothes (with visible stick bodies underneath). Cracks me up every time. Btw, all the best with Baby Z’s impending arrival!


    2. Eon 06 Sep 2011 at 10:20 am

      Z is here! :)

      I know what you mean; I love that “unspoiled” look of pieces done by kids who haven’t gone to art school too. Hehe I still draw stick figures btw! I’ve read that tip on breaking things down into simple shapes before attempting to draw them, but this is the first time I’ve actually tried it out with Layla. Am not a very visual person but I’d like to draw more!


    3. John Hoflandon 02 Jul 2014 at 7:26 am

      I just saw your blog, and it reminded me of drawing the same lion with may kids. My problem was that I really wanted more step-by-step drawing exercises than the book offered, so when one of my daughters was hired by an art school that followed a similar system, I joined a few classes. What fun! That eventually led to setting up my own website with an online drawing/art curriculum. I’ve had lots of fun putting it together. And imagine–it started with that simple, elegant lion!


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