Do young children really see the world like this?

I have watched my kids attempt at art as they grow up. They all went through a phase at 2-4, where a person was drawn as a round circle, (with undivided head and body) spindly arms, but big hands. This seems a common stage as children are growing up. Is that how that actually see adults (as basically all head and hands), or is it just a problem relating what they see to what they draw? May be a IMHO, but it would be interested to see if there any studies or theories on this. A google didn’t yield anything of interest.

I think it may well be how they percieve the world, or at least how they express their perception of it; trees are another one; my daughter used to draw trees as enormous long brown sticks with a tiny clump of green on top which, when you think about it, is pretty much what a tree looks like to an ankle-biter; arguably the same is true of their perception of people; the face and hands are the only bit that really matters to a developing child.

good point Mangetout, but with that theory, children should draw adults as all feet and knobbly knees?

The face is the most important bit. There are also hands (important), attached to arms, so on they go. There are legs and feet. On they go as well. Torso isn’t so important. It’s not that they can’t see it, just that they don’t rate it as an important part of the body.

There are studies, but I can’t remember the names. I’ll see about researching it a wee bit, when I remember.

No, that’s the point; small children are only able to interact with the trunks of trees and likewise, most of their interaction with other people will be with the hands and face.

WAG: it’s not how kids perceive the world, but rather how they remember it when translating it to drawings.

When trying to get a representation of a person on to paper, a kid is going to get down the main details of what consituents a person to them - i.e. a head, a body, arms and legs. As Mangetout said, the face will feature quite highly in this - but interaction isn’t the main thing responsible here.

To get a better insight into this, look at how a kid represents an outdoor scene: generally, the ground will be a green line at the bottom of the picture, with a blue strip of sky at the top. There is usually nothing in between. Obviously a kid doesn’t really perceive the horizon like this, and it would be hard to see how this depiction is linked to how a kid interacts with the world. However, it is fairly clear that to a child’s mind, the sky goes at the top, and the ground at the bottom; what goes in between just doesn’t figure in their memories.

Or, like me, you couldn’t draw a proper “horizon” when you were a kid, and still can’t at age twenty. :slight_smile:

sirjamesp, wo wohnst du in Nordrhein-Westfalen?

tsarina: Nicht weit von Düsseldorf.

Hmmm, I’m not so sure; kids are very aware of the ground directly below them (painfully so when the fall on it) and they are aware of the sky waaaaay up there, but they don’t tend to look at things that are medium-distant or far away on their own level unless they are directed to; the horizon doesn’t really exist because they don’t look at it (generally, in my experience).

Has it ocurred to anyone that it may be that kids just can’t draw/ Because I am not a kid and I can’t draw either but I know very well what Julia Roberts looks like even if I can’t draw her.

I don’t think it’s that simple Sailor; kids’ drawing styles seem to go through distinct stages; it’s not that they will draw a person badly, they can actually draw a very neat representation of a person, it’s just that the person isn’t drawn with a torso; I’m sure it’s a perception(not ability)-driven

I think this is a mix of somewhere between what sailor says and the rest. Most kids don’t have the fine motor skills to interpret what they see. This can vary wildly from one kid to the next. My two are a good example. My son, who is four since March, can make a circle and put some dots in. He’s never been particularly good at holding onto drawing implements, nor has it particularly interested him. Yet in other ways he is very coordinated, has great balance and is eerily intelligent (we thought he was kind of dull for a while compared to his older sister, but it turns out he just couldn’t speak or draw as clearly).

My daughter, on the other hand is six and can draw better than many adults by the age of five. I have a drawing up in my office from about this period, which shows a mostly proportional girl (the head is disproportionately larger in the same way a TV cartoonist would emphasize the head and the hands have three fingers each) but the arms, legs, body are proportional, the eyes are on the proper place in the head (toward the middle, not too far up), there’s a bow in her hair, green eyes, a small flower on the bodice of the dress, eyelashes, clouds, etc. She’s done other drawings where out of the blue she’ll draw plants and show the root structure beneath the plants, the branches of trees, leaves, etc. Heck, I wouldn’t even think of doing that. She has always had good fine motor skills, but is a total clutz at catching a ball. So nature favors some things in some and some things in others.

Still, her drawings, while intricate, remain mainly two dimensional. Most people realise that the world is in three dimensions from some time, but have a lot of trouble to project this onto a two dimensional surface. Most adults can’t do it or do it well. Yet that doesn’t mean that we see the world in two dimensions.

didn’t we all used to be kids at some point, shouldn’t you know?

Most people don’t recall too much, if anything, from the ages 0-4. And if they do it’s more likely to be events than impressions.

Adults are prone to the same kind of perceptual mistakes; to a large extent, we see the world as we expect to see it, not as it really is. Anyone who has searched for hours for the bunch of keys that are in plain view (but not where they are expected to be) should know what I mean.

I majored in elementary education in college, and had to take a “teaching of art” class, but I’ll be damned if I remember much of what I learned.

I did, however, find this webpage on google by searching “Artistic Development in Children”

After a little more research, this page is even better.

Scroll down and click on “Pre-Symbolism”

Kids don’t see the world that way, at least as I remember it. When you’re a kid, you haven’t yet learned, well, how to draw. Things like perspective, spacial relationships, light and shadow, etc, etc take time to learn. It’s actually pretty amazing that young kids often do master these things at such a young age…think back to the art of the Middle Ages, and how “unrealistic” some of it looks now that we understand more of the science of drawing. I remember, sometimes when drawing as a kid, you’d suddenly realize something about how the eye perceives things in real life, and you’d apply it to drawing. Everyone remember the first time they drew the 3D cube, and it looked realistic? Aww, yeahhhhh.

I can remember when I first discovered boobs. I drew two naked titties (nipples and all) on everybody represented in my drawings, whether it was my dad, my grandma, or the family dog.

Everybody had boobs.

So I’m going with a combo theory, here; as our perceptions change, so our drawings change, AND as our ability to translate those perceptions onto paper grows, so our drawings change.

Therefore, before I really noticed that anyone had boobs, I might have just perceived adults as being giant masses of face and hand.

However, in that precious time before I was able to establish that some creatures had boobs and others didn’t (and that most of the time the ones WITH boobs kept them covered up), my drawings reflected this new “Hey! People (and dogs) don’t just have eyes, noses, mouths, and hands; they have boobies, too!” perception. At the same time, my months of drawing practice came in handy with the commitment of those boobies to paper.

I know some adults who, every time they draw people’s hands, they leave out the fingerprints and the hairs on the back of the fingers and the backside of the palms and the veins, and lots of them even leave off the fingernails!