After the belated arrival of spring, Window Studio has seen an influx of new students. Mia and her son Mo, who live two doors down on the block, started coming last week. For their first project, we did self-portraits with a focus on the difference between a naturalistic vs. stylized approach. We opted for stylized!
It was most interesting the way that Mo, like many kids at the age of 6-8 years old, are absolutely confident and fearless in their drawing. They seem to have full command of their own personal visual vocabulary. While they might look at something that they are drawing briefly to note key features, they rarely get bogged down in the complexities of what they are looking at. I love for instance the lines Mo used under the eyes to show eye sockets, and his missing tooth. He also repeatedly drew lines in sets of 3 (the ears, the eyelashes) and the spikes of his hair are marvelous!
But then something seems to happen around age 10-12 (early puberty?) and that assurance disappears, for most people never to return. So when Mo’s mom Mia drew her stylized self-portrait, it seemed much less spontaneous, though I think she enjoyed making her eyes look like hypnotic spirals and her mouth like a red Cupid’s bow.
The same difference emerged again last week when Hanora brought her cousin TieTie, also age 8, to class. She (and Jeremy) have crossed over into that miserable stage of intense dissatisfaction where everything is “no good, sucks, don’t look right!” and ends up with a lot of crumpled up paper in the recycling bin! All they want to draw is anime or super heroes, and while copying these can be a way to learn how to draw figures, and some kids like Sam are genuinely gifted at this style of drawing, the rest of us find it frustrating and unsatisfactory. And while I let them do it, I don’t know if tracing really counts as a way to learn drawing!
All of this was emphasized by TieTie’s joining us last week. He plunged in, painting his self portrait (at top) and then drawing vases of all kinds of flowers with such ease you felt like he could draw the whole world!