STAGES OF GRAPHIC REPRESENTATION
(Ages 2-5 Early Childhood)
- The Manipulative Stage is also known as the
Scribble Stage the difference is that scribbling implies
an early phase of development and the term manipulation
includes a broader period of exploring and trying new materials.
- During this time of exploring the child develops many linear
and circular patterns. One such pattern is the mandala.
The madala is a universal symbol found in many cultures. It
appears as a circle with crossed lines or often as a circle with
lines radiating from it.
- By making a variety of marks and lines the normal child
gains experience in making shapes and linear patters as they
progress through the manipulative stage.
- During this stage an important development occurs that
places the child realms ahead of other animals and points to the
tremendous mental potential of human beings. This sub-stage
occurrence is called naming of a scribble. Naming first
appears when the child begins to tell stories about their
scribbles. A second sub-stage involves the child describing
what is about to be drawn. In both cases the scribble may not
appear to be much to the observer. This occasion is important
because it marks the point in time when the child begins to
visualize. Each naming gives the child more experience and
encouragement to develop more symbols and more stories.
(Ages 6-9 Grades 1-4)
- When the child makes a connection between the image drawn
and an idea, the shape of the image becomes a symbol for that
idea. Sometimes the same shape will be used to express another
idea totally different from the first.
- It is important to realize that the early drawings of
children are showing a concept or a specific idea. From the
child's point of view only basic symbols are needed to do this.
A primitive symbol such as a circular shape with a few lines and
marks means more than a head of a person - it could stand for
the entire body.
- Children at this stage are aware of how a human looks, they
see the same things an adult sees. The difference is that
children draw what they know, not what they see.
- As the child evolves through this stage more details begin
to appear in their drawings. The human figure is show with most
of the details that distinguish it as to gender and social
- When two or more symbols are use to relate a joined thought
within the same composition, the child is demonstrating an
advanced visual communication skill. It shows that the child is
aware that objects in its environment are related.
- The use of space during this stage varies greatly from
beginning to end. At first the child considers the picture
plane (the sheet of paper) to be space for all objects and
ideas. Symbols are placed all over the plane. Later on certain
symbols (mother, dad, house, etc.) occupy major space though
their size and placement in the picture plane. As the child's
awareness develops the images begin to relate to the bottom of
the edge of paper. This baseline is often shown as grass
or a meaningful dark line. The base line is followed by a
sky line shown normally as a blue line on or near the top
of the paper. Subject matter is placed between the two lines.
This demonstrates the child's awareness of up and down and how
the child relates to its environment Sometimes multiple
baselines are drawn with various symbols placed on them to
express a more complex concept.
- Color choices reflect an understanding of natural uses of
color (sky is blue, grass green, etc.).
- It is not uncommon to see X-ray views during this
stage. This is a method that allows the child to express the
idea of something within another object. Other techniques common
during this stage are:
foldover - showing a scene from both sides by drawing
one side then turning the paper around to draw the other side
(sidewalk with buildings on both sides).
Bird's-eye view - the drawing appears to be seen from a high
view looking down.
Multiple views> - within one drawing two or more views are
used to express a complex idea.
(Ages 10-13 Grades 5-8)
- This stage includes children from the fourth grade through
the seventh and possibly the eight grade.
- As the child progresses through this stage caution and self
criticism show in the child's art work..
- This is a period of time where the child becomes more
socially aware and sensitive to peer opinion.
- The preadolescent child is going through many social,
physical, and mental changes. These changes are reflected in
their art work. This age needs additional help and art
education guidance to progress through what is a difficult time.
- Interest in detail, perspective, subtle use of color, and
art techniques makes the children in this stage exciting to
NoteThe above is a brief summary of the subject,
for more information refer to the following book. With the
exception of the illustrations all of the above content is from:
CHILDREN AND THEIR ART, Al Hurwitz / Michael Day,
Harcourt Brace College Publishers, Texas, 1995.