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Stages of Child Art Development

By Stephany Elsworth ; Updated April 18, 2017

When a child first begins dabbling creatively, the works of art will likely be colorful, yet rudimentary and simple. Gradually, over time and with practice, a youngster refines artistic abilities. The stages of art development in a child can be exciting to watch. Victor Lowenfeld was a noted art educator and professor at Pennsylvania State University. In 1947, Lowenfeld published a book called "Creative and Mental Growth" that outlined the stages of a child's artistic development throughout childhood.

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Scribbling Stage

The scribbling stage begins at about 2 years of age and usually ends when he is around 4. Scribbling shows the child's growing hand-eye coordination. The child can often tell his caregiver what he is drawing, but if it looks like something else, the child will change the name. He incorporates more recognizable objects and details into his drawings as he grows older and his motor coordination develops.

Pre-Schematic Stage

The pre-schematic stage occurs between the ages of 4 and 7. Children in the pre-schematic stage begin to use geometric forms in their drawings. They employ a random or emotional use of color that does not correlate with real objects. People are often drawn with their arms and legs extending from the head, and they are usually shown face-forward and smiling. Children place objects and details according to emotional significance and delete those that they consider unimportant.

Schematic Stage

Children between the age of 7 and 9 are in the schematic stage of artistic development. The child uses a technique called "x-ray drawing" where he draws things that are not actually visible. For example, a car will be shown with all four wheels visible, even if two wheels are only visible in real life. The child also begins to use perspective, showing objects smaller if they are in the distance and larger up close. Children at this age frequently incorporate more details such as noses, hands and fingers into their artwork.

Dawning Realism

The dawning realism stage occurs between ages 9 and 11. A child becomes critical of his own artwork at this age because he realizes that the images he is attempting to convey do not look like the objects they are intended to represent, states the University of Minnesota Duluth website. Images of people are usually stiff and poised, and although objects are portrayed with a sense of perspective, they lose the spontaneity of the pictures created in the earlier stages.

Pseudorealistic Stage

The pseudorealistic stage occurs when the child is between 11 and 13. Children at this stage combine subjective and realistic experiences in their artwork to obtain an approximation of realism, explains the University of Minnesota Duluth website. Objects are drawn in close detail, and the human figure assumes correct proportions.

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