Friday, January 15, 2010

An Archive of Children’s Scribbles

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(Above) The Kellogg Classification System of 20 styles of children’s scribbles.

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(Above) The use of squares, angles.

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(Above) The emergence of the human form, alone.

(Above) Advanced drawing, the animal kingdom.

(Above)The human, interacting (relationship with) other things.

IN 1967, RHODA KELLOGG PUBLISHED AN ARCHIVE OF OVER 8,000 DRAWINGS MADE BY CHILDREN ages 24-40 months. (See Kellogg, R.: Rhoda Kellogg Child Art Collection. Washington, DC., Microcard Editions, Inc., 1967; now available at LexisNexis, Reed Elsevier, Inc..) Up to that point, no other archive of early graphic expressions was ever published, including a large sample of pictures and presented according to a classification system. Thus, the archive has historical status.

Rhoda Kellogg was a psychologist and a nursery school educator. Here investigations focused on the art of young children, that is, on early graphic expressions. From 1948 to 1966, she collected approximately one million drawings of young children of ages two to eight. More than half a million of these drawings are filed in the Rhoda Kellogg Child Art Collection of the Golden Gate Kindergarten Association in San Francisco, U.S.A.. Of these half-million and more drawings, some 8,000 are available, in microfiche form (see above). Some 250 paintings and drawings, selected as outstanding examples of children’s work, are reproduced in full color. (See Kellogg, R. and O’Dell, S.: The Psychology of Children’s Art. Del Mar, California, 1967.)

I made a selection of a few drawings—believe me, you could spend an entire day going through 8,000 drawings.

Kellogg describes the very first development of children’s drawings as a sequence of basic shapes or forms and their configurations: starting from twenty basic scribbles, which can be observed at the age of two, children develop placement patterns, emergent diagram shapes, diagrams, combines, aggregates, mandalas, suns, radials, before humans and early pictorialism appear. Kellogg understands this sequence as a manifestation of Gestalts, according to the Gestalt theory.

Ms. Kellogg is also one of the rare authors who presents an extensive classification system related to early graphic expressions, combined with an attempt to give empirical evidence for the picture attributes of the system and their role in the development of drawing and painting.

Go to the Kellogg site here.


Noela Mills said...

Thanks for posting this information,John. I absolutely Love kids drwaings. Noela

Dull Tool Dim Bulb said...

GREAT (a bit arcane....) but GREAT

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wow. I am going to keep every drawing my 10mo. old daughter makes, as soon as she starts. Thanks

Hollywood forever, Kevin said...

Hi John, Thanks so much for this wonderful blog. Learning something new is always a joy.

Unknown said...

Fascinating. We have a post in a similar vein on the DesignInquiry journal about children's developing drawings.

Unknown said...

Great post.

I see I will have to visit your site more often.

Rayi23 said...

I have known about Rhoda Kellogg for many years and it is disappointing that schools have not adopted those principles. I believe that the reason children do not often do well in Math is because educators and even parents disrupt this natural progression. Children love shapes. In order to do well in Math, you need that Artistic connection with form. If you look at Euclidean Geometry, the progression is from point to line to plane. This is exactly what children do. There is a natural order which reflects nature and it's geometric unfolding. Jim uses the word "arcane". This is not arcane. This is real.

Hugo Wouk said...

I first heard of Rhoda Kellog's inventory of children's basic scribbles as a student at NYU in 1975. The course was called the Psychology of Aesthetics and taught by a stellar Psychologist (Paul Vitz). The significance of the basic scribbles in that course was that culture (as shown in the drawings of the children) does not come in to play until about 3.5 years. So, those basic scribbles are cross-cultural and universal. The concept dovetails with other disciplines. For the science of vision and neurobiology, the scribbles are evidence of the development of specialized cranial neurons capable of identifying and recording straight lines, curved lines, slanted lines, 90 degree angle lines etc. Although I didn't think about it at the time, the development of culture in the pictures of children ( a car in industrialized nations, a donkey and cart in 3rd world countries) coincides with the development of the brain's hippocampus' ability to store long term memory and the subsidence of the phenomenon of infantile amnesia. Infantile amnesia is the inability to remember events prior to the age of 3 or 3.5 because the hippocampus has not developed sufficiently yet. Infantile amnesia only affects what is termed "explicit" memory. This is memory that is accessible by conscious thought retrieval. Thus "explicit" cultural memories do not come into play until long term memories can be stored and retrieved. Implicit memory is the unconsciously retrieved memory that is demonstrated when you ride a bike, button a button, write with your dominant hand or react fearfully to a medical environment in which you have been hurt (e.g. by inoculations or blood draws). Children can "implicitly" learn and remember those basic scribbles because implicit memory is stored in the reflex arcs of the spinal cord and the lower brain centers and is not affected by the phenomenon of infantile amnesia. Sorry about the length of this folks. Just thinking out loud.

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