Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Psychology of Art

by Frederike Rademacher

Number 8 by Jackson Pollock
Only recently did one of my art teachers show the class an art book of a former student and how she unknowingly divulged all of her deepest feelings onto paper; this young girl had literally laid herself out as an open book in an unwilling fashion. So I thought that I’d look at the different techniques in relation to art and how they might possibly convey the thoughts and feelings of its creator.

Art has long been put forth towards us as a way of expressing emotions without having to be verbal about it. For many this can be a very appealing way to reveal the inner workings of your mind; similar to how many shy and socially awkward people feel brave enough to express and post their thoughts online under an alias, but to do so directly in person is another matter all together. So those who create art in one form or another may well be translating their thoughts and feelings whilst hiding behind the metaphorical paint brush, so who’s to say children don’t do it too?

Children are always doodling on something or other in the hopes that their artwork might one day make it into the prestigious hall of fame known as the fridge. I certainly spent the majority of my childhood drawing on any paper I could get my hands on that would impress my mum enough to say “This is fridge worthy”. I lived for those days, when I could go up to my younger sister and silently remind her who was at the top of the food chain.

So as I sit here typing, I face not only my computer screen but also doodling that my sister gave to me as a birthday present the years she forget it was my birthday and some drawing done by my cousin at the age of five. After doing some research I have found that some of the most minor of details in a child’s drawing can deeply reflect their young minded views on the world.

Lets start with gender; there is a theory that from the age of about four you are able to tell whether or not the child artist of a drawing is a girl or boy. Rounded shapes are most commonly drawn by girls and more angular shapes drawn by boys, as such children usually prefer to draw their own gender as they are able to relate more easily. It is also key to note that girls tend to use a wider variety of colours than boys do; this can be related back to teenagers, girls tend to use more colours when writing notes or highlighting certain sections of text, girls are also said to lean towards warmer colours such as pink, yellow and orange. Whereas boys will generally follow the unspoken rule of ‘black and blue for school’, occasionally they might throw in a dash of red or yellow highlighter but their notes will lack the colour range that girls usually have but they too will lean towards a colour spectrum, the cooler side of colours such as blue and green. This is not always set in stone of course.

The use of colour is also said to convey the emotions of a child well, for instance things drawn in either black or purple suggest feelings of dominance, black in particular is used as a way to show negative feelings towards something. Blue is the most favourable colour used by young children who have a caring nature and who enjoy the company of others. Red is the colour of excitement, may be used especially by children to don’t want to miss out on anything, and is one of the most popular colours for children to use. Pink shows a need for love and appreciation and is favoured by girls, and green is the colour of those who like to be different, like space, and are artistic.

Children are chronological, who knew? When drawing, the position of objects tends to show a time line of thought; the left is associated with the past and the right as the future. Right-hand side drawing are usually done as a way to communicate the wants and desires of the child. A child who places a drawing of a decent size, prominently on the page is considered to be well-balanced and secure, while in contrast, small figures drawn at or near the lower edge of the paper or in a corner, express feelings of inadequacy or insecurity.

As well as the position of objects on the page, the quality of the line that they draw is also significant as to identifying the feelings the child. Lines with a soft, wispy quality are usually done by children who are feeling insecure or hesitant about something, usually associated with children who think as they go along. By contrast the bold, continual, freely drawn line is expressive of self-confidence, and a feeling of security. Detailed, careful drawings may reveal a child who feels the needs to try very hard. Bold marks, especially if close together, can be a sign of stress, strong feelings, determination or anger, while softer lines suggest a gentler nature.

Size matters. The size of an object drawn by a child can tell you the significance they place upon it and how they view it. Figures of a more dominant nature tend to be drawn larger, they usually draw fathers as the largest in a family portrait, as they are at often times seen as the head of the house. The absence of arms is sometimes interpreted as indicating timidity, a sign of non aggressive children, whereas exaggerating the size of the hands is seen as symbolic of aggressive tendencies if the figure is a self-portrait.

If I’m honest I don't believe that all of this can be set in stone and used as the universal guide to ‘What is your child thinking’, sometimes when doodling you run out of yellow or you loose your green Crayola pen, this doesn’t mean that because I used my red marker that I’m excited and cant afford to miss out on anything. No. It just means I didn’t have any other markers. Neither does me drawing large hands mean that the person is aggressive, it could just mean that hands are difficult to draw, I still struggle with hands; you could also have zero drawing skills as a child. I cant stress it enough that just like all works of art in either museums or galleries, kids drawings are open to interpretation. You cannot base psychology facts on a being with a currently underdeveloped brain, that makes no logical sense, but I do feel that the idea of trying to look deeper into child doodling is interesting.

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