More About Drawing
One of the things that makes humans unique is our self awareness. We are all born with an urge to express ourselves by singing, dancing and showing our emotions. We want to communicate how we are feeling to others around us. We also have an innate urge to make marks. If you ask any small child if they can draw or paint they will say ‘yes’ and happily show you.
It seems to be an inborn urge to make draw symbols of what we see around us. Perhaps this helps us to connect to our environment and make sense of it….. Drawing as a form of communication and connection goes right back to our human roots. Our self awareness, creativity and inventiveness have made us the most powerful animal on earth.
Little children begin by scribbling (on everything!) until they – miraculously – form a circle. Apparently young chimps love to scribble as well, and some even manage to make a circle too, but they do not take the symbol any further. Human children put dots and lines inside that circle – and suddenly it represents a face, usually Mummy’s, or the face of their primary carer. That face is the most important feature of their world and when it appears they know that they are safe and will be cared for. They draw that circular image over and over again, beginning to add other people in their world, and adding stick legs because the faces move, and stick arms and fingers because the faces do things with them. Their drawings are completely logical symbols of the world as they experience it. This is why art therapists can read so much into a child’s pictures.
One of my daughters drew us all as a family when she was very young; I was the only one with fingers though. In her world perhaps it seemed that I was the only one that did anything!
Little children are sponges, and will happily copy other people’s images to complement their own. They are very happy to be shown how to draw a simple house, a tree, a bird. They copy each other’s images and symbols too. It is interesting that children’s drawings look remarkably similar the world over.
An exercise I sometimes give my students is to draw a simple landscape pretending that they are about five. The first thing they notice is how HAPPY this makes them feel! Then we see how similar their drawings often are, and one thing that I love is that Maltese students will usually draw little houses with pointed roofs and chimneys, when there is no such thing in typical Maltese architecture. I wonder how children would draw if they were not shown anything at all?
My family had a Spanish au pair girl when I was very small and she used to draw little Princesses for me. They all looked the same and I loved them. I wonder if that sparked my fascination with drawing the human figure?