Zenia Paints From 15 to 22 Months

Delivery Method: 

Zenia is learning to draw and paint. This clip spans her work from 15 months to 22 months. She begins with making marks on objects printed in a catalogue. Notice how deliberate she is about where she places her marks, usually in the middle of pictured object, deftly lifting her pen with a flare after she has added her mark.

Now notice a similar deliberateness when she paints on blank paper a few months later at 17 months. Could it be that working on the paper with printed objects created a disposition to location? A mark could be a shape placed anywhere, or a mark could be placed in a deliberate relation to another mark, the beginning of composition. Of course when drawing on the catalogue the “other mark” is already there in the printed object. But with the blank paper, Zenia makes her own marks that then become anchors for subsequent marks. Thus defines the development of her understanding of pattern.

In the segment at 19 months she sort of “romances” her drawing by talking to it. What might we speculate about her words? We don’t think she is drawing pictures, but she quite possibly is passing judgment on whether the resulting marks are to her liking. She says “yeah” and puts her finger to her lips as if she is studying her work. The basis for a child “liking” a mark is itself an interesting question. Assuming a mark is liked for reasons other than its similarity to real objects (representational drawing), a mark could be liked because it has sufficient complexity, definitiveness, kinetics, or a “proper” location. Zenia clearly pauses to look at what she had done with a pensiveness that merits our esteem.

At 22 months notice how sometimes she attends to the action of the brush (slapping the brush to the paper with gusto) but then pauses to study the resulting mark. At a certain point, she makes an amazing shift and slows down the slapping of the brush to be more deliberate in making a particular mark. This shift of attention from the action of the brush to the resulting shape of the marks also defines her development. We might even venture to say, given what we already know about her thoughtfulness, that even her slapping, like a young Jackson Pollock, carries with it a keen awareness of how the action would create planned forms on the paper. What other strategies do you notice in her actions? Do any of the later strategies seem more advanced than the earlier ones?