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Learning from kids
stages and exercises  comments  

When he was just turned 8, my son Wiley drew a picture of Three Warrior Figures, with black marker on newsprint. We were drawing together, and I was using watercolor and watercolor pencils to color in the forms.

It occurred to me as we worked that I might make these figures 3 dimensional by using model making techniques in a loose and relaxed manner. No cuts at 90 or 45 degrees, very relaxed standards for fits and for finishing, glue marks no problem, no plans, just improvising, "just goofing around". It was a very enjoyable task, very liberating.

I used some doll parts (generic and $store items); the small ball joint for the rubber head's attachment echoed Wiley's drawing, and soon I was thinking about dolls with small heads. I purchased more styrene.

Many of the deadening effects of living in our modern age could be overcome by a renewed pleasure in image making.

And this clearly could be learned from kids. The lessons are right there. Be focused, engaged, spontaneous, adaptable, & experimental. Use all your adult skills, but forget your usual solutions. Be intuitive & imagine fearlessly. Embrace the accidental, engage all your senses. Colour is a new mystery. Make choices based on alternative principles. Experiment. Engage the imagination of the viewer…


Other doll images were inspired by Wiley's 3d drawing. His friend Brett christened them Evil Dolls.

By this time I had started doing research on the developmental stages of children's art and perception. It's appears to be generally accepted that children mature through several distinct stages of development. There appears to be a worldwide first expression of the depiction of self, a head with legs.

I had also started digitizing source drawings, and while considering"exercises" I reflected back upon earlier images I had made.


Nick's Drawing   A lot of Predators out there.

When Nick was 4 yrs old and a bit later, he and I liked to draw together. We would do cities, buildings, transportation. Line drawings with markers (I had lots). I liked the way he drew animals, rows of teeth extending beyond the jaw, relaxed legs, intense expressions. We drew a bunch of them together, the drawing here is enhanced with a more sophisticated coloring method and a considered composition.

Matt's Skeleton drawing

Matt drew 2 views of a human skeleton (for possible inclusion in the Skull Cabinet?) at about the time I was determining to build a marionette replica of a renaissance skeleton puppet, one that broke apart and then reassembled itself. The side view of the skull on his drawing became one of the sources for the skull of this marionette

During these years I found new inspiration in the commonality of the stages of visual expression that we all pass through as children. I've tried to renew my attitudes, & to rediscover the kind of fun and satisfaction that drew me to the arts in the first place.

The images in stages and exercises were drawn by my sons,other young family members and friends.