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The Stacked Human

stacked figureThese first drawings will shortly evolve, after much practice and experimenting into a more elaborate human figure. The single circle will become elongated, or perhaps the long legs will become enclosed forming a second shape beneath the original head. A body has now been added to the original single circle. The two circled representation, one circle stacked upon the other, is a triumph of graphic development. The more complicated double formed figure continues to be oriented with a top, bottom, left and right axis. It follows the same compositional directions as the earlier, simpler drawings. The face with the attached body and the arms and legs radiating, continues to look out, in a forward direction, as does the newly discovered body, to form a more complete human figure on the page.

The figure is carefully balanced, with the top of the head differentiated from the feet at the bottom of the drawing. There is less differentiation, however, from left to right where the need for symmetry provides two identical matching half’s. The body matches from left to right. Generally, if these attached figures are divided in the middle two very similar views are seen, because symmetry and balance continue to be the organizing principals for the young child’s compositions.

The attainment of this compositional harmony is both pleasing and satisfying for the child. For her this is an esthetically pleasing result. Her new task is to find ways to vary the details of the drawing without disturbing the principal compositional elements that she has worked so hard to discover and attain. She will do many more drawings of people using the same esthetic principles. She may do thousands of drawings of different figures, all different characters of her imagination, she may vary the kinds of hair, or eyes, or buttons, or teeth, or fingers or toes her figures have, but they will all have a top, a bottom, a left and a right that will provide symmetry and balance to the drawings.

painting figuresAs the child becomes more masterful of the early figurative drawings, the objects she includes in her pictures become more specifically precise. As a child of two the line she drew could stand for a dog because she said it was a dog. There was no real differentiation between that line and others. Now the line has evolved into an enclosure, that became a circle, that in turn now has differentiating details and symmetrical composition that make it a person. Perhaps other details can be added that will make that drawing a dog.


Figures painted by 8 year olds, Berkeley Child Art Studio.
Human figure by 3 year old.