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Drawing Analysis Research Paper

Drawing Analysis Research Paper


Kelly Lamp
University of Missouri

Drawing Analysis Research Paper


Artistic interpretation is a critical role for future educators to
possess and practice in order to succeed in their classrooms. Since
development is a key factor in creating curriculum, teachers must
understand the stages of physical, mental, and emotional development
that their students are reaching as they age. In order to set up a
productive list of expectations and objectives for students, teachers
must first study the developmental age of their students to correctly
put goals into place for what the students should accomplish. Critical
thinking in the elementary classroom is a widely discussed issue in
education today. As a future teacher, it is crucial to think critically
about student work and find underlying meaning. By doing this,
teachers can gain a greater insight about their students and learn
about their subconscious. Future educators should do all they can to
practice analyzing student work through the methods, conversations,
and post-activity reflection in order to learn the most about students
and their artistic work. My main goal throughout this investigation was
to analyze the work of a school-age child in order to gain more
experience and learn critical tools for use in my classroom. Throughout
this investigation I will focus on an analysis of childs artwork and how
it uncovers important information about the subconscious, child life,
and stages of development.
For my investigation, I worked with and analyzed the art work of
a 4-year-old preschooler that I babysit. I wanted to see what type of art

Drawing Analysis Research Paper


work Zahra would produce if I gave her directions and probed her
thinking while she drew. As a source of information, I used my
conversations with Zahra and the picture she drew. Zahra loves to
draw so I knew that this would be an activity that she would love to
participate in. When I went over to babysit Zahra she was very excited
when I asked her to help me with my schoolwork. I brought over a few
sheets of white printer paper and a pack of 90 markers for Zahra to
work with. First, I proposed that she draw a picture of herself for me. I
told Zahra I want you to draw me a picture of yourself. Can you do
that for me? She excitedly shook her head and agreed. As Zahra
began to pick out her markers I noticed her reaching towards the pinks
and purples. Zahra quickly drew herself with a pink marker. I
encouraged her to add some more drawings of other things that she
loves in her picture. Zahra continued drawing more figures, each
varying in size and color. Throughout the process of her drawings, I
probed Zahras thinking and asked her what she was drawing. At first,
Zahra said that she picked the colors because pink and purple are my
most favorite colors. This turned out to be the color scheme of the
entire picture. Zahra turned the paper to be in a landscape position,
beginning by drawing herself on the left/middle of the page. Next,
Zahra added her favorite toys by her legs, pointing out that it was her
Anna and Elsa dolls. Zahra then drew a taller person on her left and
two smaller people on her right. These were pointed out to be

Drawing Analysis Research Paper


Momma, Aisha and Sunny, her mom, little sister, and baby brother.
She said that all the little chipmunks are at Zahras home. After she
told me this, Zahra drew a taller person spaced further away on the
right with five spikes of hair. I asked Zahra who that was and she said
thats Baba at Babas home, everyone else is at Zahras home but
Babas at Babas home. Baba is what Zahra calls her Dad, so she drew
him clearly as a boy but spaced further away from her than the rest of
her family and toys. At the end, Zahra went back to each person and
drew smiles on their faces. Zahra and I discussed the picture once she
finished drawing in order to reflect on her artwork. Zahra did a great
job of creating this drawing and once she finished she proceeded to
reach for more paper so she could start another picture. There is a
plethora of things that I learned from this investigation of art work with
Zahra that will be analyzed and discussed in the duration of the rest of
the paper.
Zahras drawing led me to analyze many different aspects of her
art looking for surface and underlying meaning. First of all, I inspected
the theme of Zahras drawing: her family. As Zahra began drawing I
noticed that she placed herself towards the left side, slightly close to
the middle of the page, but her body floated in mid-air. The other
objects that Zahra added to the picture were placed right around her.
She drew her mom, sister, and brother in close proximity to her and
they also floated in the air.

Drawing Analysis Research Paper

Her Anna and Elsa dolls were


placed by her feet in the

picture which lead me to ask why they were put in that spot. Zahra told
me that she plays with her dolls on the floor, which is why she put
them by her feet. The proximity of her family members was not
shocking to me, but I asked her why they only took up the
left side of the page. This two-thirds division of the page
made me question her thinking until Zahra described that
they were all close because they were at Zahras home
(Kellogg, 1970). Zahras parents are divorced and her mother
has primary custody of the children. With that being said,
Zahra drew herself, her mother, her sister, her brother, and
her favorite dolls altogether because they spend time together the

Drawing Analysis Research Paper


most. Once Zahra drew her father on the other side of the page this
idea became clear. I was able to see this withdrawal and separation of
her parents visible in her picture based on the closeness of the
relatives that she sees everyday compared to the space that separated
her father from the rest of them. This was an unconscious thought for
Zahra at first, but then came into her conscious thinking once I started
to question her about her reasoning for the defining space. Even
though Zahra is so young and her parents divorce/separation is recent
it is clear to see that she is being impacted by the situation and is
beginning to understand the circumstances that her family is now in.
Another aspect of Zahras picture that I investigated was the markings
that make up the human bodies. I can tell that Zahra has passed
through the Mandala-phase of drawing because the lines show that
the child has been stimulated by his own earlier drawing of the Sun
(Kellogg, 1970). Zahra has learned from this sun/Mandala-phase that
objects begin with a source then have extensions of it. Her people are
shown as stick figures starting off with the source of a head then
adding lines as a body, arms, legs, hair, and various numbers of
fingers. The inconsistencies in the lines show that Zahra is still learning
the meaning of each line, but she is able to create marks that hold
meaning and represent different parts of the body. The people are all
relatively complete Human images according to Kelloggs chart (pg
109). Zahra is showing knowledge and understanding for the parts of

Drawing Analysis Research Paper


the human body and has made
marks that represent each part
even though they may not look
completely accurate. It is clear to
see that Zahras artwork is
categorized in the Mandala phase
based on her drawings and this
shows that she is beginning to make meaning out of her drawings,
both consciously and subconsciously.
As a child in the Preschematic stage, Zahra has begun to make
attempts at representing what she sees in her life into pictures. In
terms of space representation, Zahra fits this stage because her
drawing has objects seem to float around page (Kellogg, 1970).
Zahras objects float above an invisible ground and her dolls float
around her legs near each other. The placement and size of objects
are determined subjectively as describe earlier shows her fitting in the
Preschematic stage based on the placement related to the family living
situations (Kellogg, 1970). Looking at the human figures, there is a
visible gradual inclusion of arms (often from head), body, fingers,
toes which can be seen in the limbs and attempt at fingers on the
people. All of these factors together show Zahras inclusion in the
Preschematic stage. I believe that Zahra is an advanced child when it
comes to her drawing based on her complex drawing and inclusion of

Drawing Analysis Research Paper


many details that would be expected to be seen in older children. As a
future educator, this investigation would lead others to believe that
Zahra is developing well and getting a lot of encouragement in the arts
based on her overall excitement for the activity, motivation to work,
and advanced abilities. An
underlying message about
her parents divorce can
also be seen through this
image as well as
documented through the
conversations that I had
with Zahra. Throughout this
investigation I learned a lot
about Zahras development
and artistic thinking based on the drawing she created for me to
analyze.
As a future educator, analyzing early artists work is very
important for discovering their surface and subconscious thoughts. For
early artists, discovering the issues that occur in their lives and
connecting them to art work can be essential in uncovering details
about your students lives. Early artists make their works about things
that they know, so teachers can learn a lot about their students
through their art work. Child art development can be a great outlet for

Drawing Analysis Research Paper


personal details and developmental abilities for classroom teachers to
learn about. I would suggest that all Elementary Education majors get
an opportunity to work with young artists because it gives great insight
into the physical, mental, and emotional development of young
students. By studying and analyzing student work, future educators
can learn a lot about what to expect from their students and how to
make connections with their students based on the work that they
create. In terms of art integration, educators should welcome this
practice in their classroom in order to learn about their students and as
an outlet for students to get out difficulties they may be facing. Art is
an integral part of the education of our future members of society, and
as future educators it is crucial that it remains an important subject for
our students learning.
Throughout this investigation I was able to learn a lot first-hand
how to analyze childrens art, which will be a very important thing for
me to use in my future classroom. I was able to learn about different
stages of artistic development, such as the Mandala and Preschematic
phases, and how they are influenced by physical and cognitive
development. This is an essential concept to understand as it aids
teachers in interpreting student artwork and understanding their
subconscious thoughts. As a future educator it is extremely important
to gain experience working with student artwork in this way to analyze
how students think in order to set clear and appropriate expectations

Drawing Analysis Research Paper


for lessons. Overall, this investigation taught me a lot about analyzing
childrens artwork and the important implications that can be brought
into my future classroom.
References
Kellogg, R. (1970). Analyzing childrens art. Palo Alto, CA: National.