The developmental progression in children’s paintings

Between the ages of 2 to age 5 ½ preschool children, between 32”inches and 45’’ inches tall , children  of every size, shape and walk of life; paint.

They face a blank sheet of paper 24” inches high and 18” inches wide, nearly as big as they are and they choose a color ,and paint.

Holding a 7” to 10” long brush, nearly the length of their arm with bristles wider than a finger ,  they paint.

In the beginning the creative experiment is the coming together of brush, paper and paint.

Often the child first follows the drip with the brush, the mark becomes more deliberate.
Controlling one stroke that covers the other. A random mark brings a new mark, a new shape.

The tentative strokes are experimental at first, learning about the tools, what the brush does; contact  and pressure; moving the strokes of color.

Aha! The paint begins to flow and the sensuous painterly wetness of the paint  begins to move the brush.  The brush dances on the paper.

More! Exploration, experimentation

 The painting is itself interesting, it drips, it slides, it moves, colors change and mix. The full body experience becomes increasingly purposefully, thoughtfully. Color overlays color time and time again, the painting grows.

Shapes beginning as random movements become a place to practice a shape around and around goes the brush, the arm, the hand- the circle forms.

 Back again to enjoy the movement, the flow of the paint, the slippery pleasure of the movement,  the surprise of the color changes

By three the children’s focus and control extends to delight in covering the whole paper.

The white areas are from the clips that hold the paper – the clips were painted green like the paper. Solid and thick with paint the paper  may be worn through with rubbing or too heavy to hang up to dry without tearing in its own weight.

Another color brings the sensuous pleasure of beauty. The thickness of the paint  brings texture to the brush strokes and the blending of the colors.

The feel:  There is a deep comfort in beauty and harmony.  The knowingness that humans create beauty, builds deep awareness of self worth

 More colors more variety more experimentation

Interest expands as choices and options occur

Now the colors create depth

Just adding more colors creates blocks of colors, and bring ideas of shapes, mass and balance

The experiment expands with blocks of color comes shape and spaces. The area between become interesting and bring value to the visual composition.  With new awareness and experimentation comes new ideas.  We see the increase in brush stroke experimentation and the idea that while the brush stroke could create a block of color  and it could create a line

Another use of the brush dots and lines dance across the paper. Something different this way comes!

Ideas blend imagination increases and ad adults we are watching for design and representation emerge.

Here we see the increased intentionality in the color blocking

Intentionality and design can feel loose and painterly. Here the rhythmic yellow moves the eye in a cadence across the picture; The balance of black swirl balanced with the smaller curve are all loose, relaxed and very intentional

Design is beginning to emerge

Shapes, forms, outlines, background there is clearly real thought and intentionality going into this.

Balance, order, structure, pattern, intentionality

These transitional forms may not be a specific objects but rather the abstraction of a thought coming to life more from imagination and feeling than knowledge and intention. As adults we read them as a figures more than as design but they could be either or both.

The train track with the self portrait of the child who made the painting in the corner the design  is striking and the rainbow always the symbol of love beauty and harmony for the four year old child.

The artist declared “it’s the sun, you know the bright and shiny sun! from our song”

The artist declared “it’s the sun, you know the bright and shiny sun! from our song”

Representation adults can see how deliberate this self portrait is down to drawing the round blue outline of the face and filling in the face then adding hair- like the blue legs inside the black pants.

The sketch of the girl is loose and fast with more feeling than precision. The child making this painting was older and more comfortable with representation.

By age five just have a flair they are representational and full of fun passion and important detail. “This is a train is coming out of the tunnel. The black lines are the tracks.”

My house with the stairs inside and the ladder outside

And there you have it! By 5 ½ Design, representation, feeling emotion and writing  all come together and create beauty.