Drawing Through Language

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Structure and Development of Drawing

Indeed, one is pressed in Japan not to find this style in graphic representations. Due to his unprecedented popularity at the birth of the contemporary Japanese comic industry, many other comic authors imitated his style. As the industry grew and developed, the style became associated with no individual author but as a conventionalized representation characteristic of the whole nation — just like a language. In contrast, stylistic consistency like this does not occur in American visual culture. Although some conventionalization does exist between American comic artists for example, among studios of comic artists , great diversity is observed among drawing styles throughout the culture.

Comics, cartoons, advertisements, etc. Without a ubiquitous consistent style, American children face a harder time acquiring an external system of schemas. Which style, if any, do they choose? Social motivation also plays a role based on the prevalence of a consistent style. By imitating the style from their comics, Japanese children participate in the visual language of their culture. In contrast, without a consistent style that reflects their social community, American children do not have a social motivation to imitate unless they belong to a subculture that values some visual style, such as American readers of Japanese comics [Sell, ].

In sum, comics provide Japanese children with a consistent visual vocabulary they can acquire. As a result, they have greater proficiency in drawing than American children and an absence of a drop-off in drawing development [Toku, , a, b; Wilson, , ]. By comparison, learning to draw from life drawing does not facilitate the same graphic fluency as imitation of schemas. Because each visual percept of objects in the world is different, a learner is charged with figuring out how to represent the very unsystematic aspects of a visual surface [Arnheim, , ], thereby not learning a vocabulary of graphic schemas.

For someone who has relied on representing such visual perception in learning to draw, drawing from memory then becomes a harder task because no vocabulary of schemas has been acquired. According to this account, drawing development resembles language development: it involves the acquisition of a visual vocabulary of patterns. So, what happens when a user does not acquire enough schemas to attain a level of proficiency i. However, as will be emphasized, important parallels in the overall course of development deserve to be highlighted. Since the middle of the twentieth century, the development of drawing has often been recognized as involving a linear trajectory towards realism [Lowenfeld, ].

This is followed by a stage of graphic babbling, where shapes are repeated but do not necessarily form recognizable objects. By ages 2—3, children begin depicting actions through basic shapes and scribbles and then shift to using drawings to represent objects rather than actions. Between ages 5 and 8, they begin treating graphics as an autonomous system with increasing detail, realism, and complexity. Not everyone has agreed that development follows a linear trajectory toward realism. He noted that children often produce different styles showing their conceptualizations of objects before settling on a full aim towards perceptual realism.

For example, when young children draw cubes set in front of them e. In essence, Luquet theorized that children progress from using mental models to drawing from perception. He hypothesized that children are impaired in their production and draw from and thus emphasize prototypical concepts rather than a complete visual model. This difference was also addressed by Milbrath [], who argued that ordinary children rely on conceptualized imagery, while gifted drawers concentrate earlier on forms, apparent shapes, and perceptual realism. Again, these approaches involve a progression broadly between drawing from conceptualized imagery from memory to drawing a perceived surface life drawing.

He too links drawing to cognitive manifestations of life drawing view-centered depiction and drawing from memory object-centered depiction , and he readily acknowledges the role of schemas, although their role in development remains unspecified. To him, the development of drawing reflects attempts to represent ever-increasing levels of perceptual understanding. He argued that the scribbles made between ages 1 and 3 are actually attempts to draw full regions, not random lines or exploratory antecedents to actual representations [as in Kellogg, ]. Children then progress between ages 3 and 8 to drawing regions as bounded areas.

As early as age 6, they begin to use faces of objects to denote regions rather than contours and by age 8 they begin smoothing the outlines of objects. Only by around age 10 do children begin to use lines to depict edges and contours, evidenced by their use of line junctions and occlusion.

With this in mind, it is important to note that other researchers have emphasized developmental trajectories that do not reflect a linear trend. Gardner and Winner [] argued that drawings by young children are aesthetically comparable to mature artists, while drawings from adolescents undergo a period of poorer aesthetic power.

Experimentation did show evidence for this U-shaped development when fine art judges rated the drawings by children, adolescents, and mature artists [Davis, , a, b]. Under this view, imitation of cultural influences plays a very important role. Although some research has highlighted the importance of cultural influence, imitation, and drawing from schemas, models do not directly incorporate the role of imitation into their trajectories of drawing development. Some theories admirably stress diverse cultural influences, but they often do not describe how these cultural repertoires interact with the reasonably well-attested aspects of stage theories.

Essentially, by so readily acknowledging the diversity offered through culturally contextual drawing influences, important details about imitative versus nonimitative development may be overlooked or blurred. However, theories that ignore cultural influence altogether actually describe how drawing persists without imitation and schemas.

In essence, these theories frame what an impoverished system of drawing looks like. We can now compare the development of drawing with that of other modalities. Although researchers debate the degree to which the underlying structures of language are genetically endowed [e. A child born in Boston will likely learn English while a child in Tokyo will learn Japanese. Additionally, language learning progresses within a critical period that extends until puberty, after which the ability to learn rapidly declines, and full linguistic competency will be unattainable [e.

It is important to note that language researchers do not have hard and fast evidence for the existence of a critical period in language development. However, the accumulation of numerous examples has provided fairly convincing evidence that language learning after puberty becomes manifestly more difficult. For example, immigrants who move to a new country as adults often struggle to become fluent in the language of their new home. Even with explicit instruction in vocabulary and grammar, they may never sound truly native. Other examples come from children who, for unfortunate reasons, were not exposed to a language at all within their critical periods.

After subsequently receiving intense language instruction, she did develop a significant vocabulary, although she never fully attained proficiency with even simple rules of grammar. Another case was a woman who did have regular social contact, but was believed to be retarded until age 31, when she was discovered to have been deaf [Curtiss, ]. Overall, late learning of verbal language appears to yield a rudimentary vocabulary but with impairments in being able to create sentences. Additional research on the manual modality has further described what happens when people face a lack of linguistic input.

Children, whether hearing or deaf, will learn sign language if they are exposed to it, although greater fluency comes with exposure earlier in life [Newport, ]. Without depending on sign language, speaking individuals also learn the gestures of their society. These signs either consist of spontaneous novel gesticulations e. However, these signs are usually produced in isolation without any sort of syntactic sequence and appear at a rate of roughly one sign per spoken clause [McNeill, ].

A more extreme scenario occurs when deaf children are raised by hearing parents and are never exposed to a sign language. These children have no external linguistic input, but instead they create their own manual sign systems. These findings suggest that, in the absence of a system for deaf children to acquire sign language, they will invent systematic signs to communicate despite such systems being limited in nature. Research on impoverished linguistic abilities has led Goldin-Meadow [] to make an important contrast between resilient and fragile properties of language.

Resilient properties of language withstand impoverished developmental conditions and emerge despite the absence of an external input. These properties appear in homesigners and other instances of impoverished language learning; they include features like basic segmentation of signs into contrasting meanings and rudimentary patterns for ordering signs into simple sequences.

In contrast, fragile properties of language are those that do not survive impoverished conditions and require external input such as an extensive lexicon and syntactic complexity in multisign sentences. These conventional aspects of language must be learned within the critical period of language development; otherwise only the resilient properties will remain.

In this light, how can we interpret the drawing abilities of individuals who do not receive adequate exposure to or practice in drawing? Individuals who do learn to draw proficiently copy other drawings to acquire a lexicon of graphic schemas. Alternatively, some people may diligently create their own systems where they invent schemas for their personal graphic idiolects. These are the aspects of drawing that pervade despite lacking an external input. Some resilient features may permeate across domains, and some may be specific to drawing.

Similar mappings appear in the sand drawings of native Australians, where simple circles and lines can stand for any number of meanings [Munn, , ], and with early stages in drawing development in which graphic marks map to basic shapes and volumes in the denotation system [Willats, ]. If, as Armstrong and Wilcox [] suggest, these classifier systems reflect basic persisting strategies of mapping form to meaning across modalities, they may be included as resilient properties of drawing as well.

Just as the resilient features of language have been revealed through studying impoverished populations, detailing the resilient features of drawing can be studied through cross-cultural and historical corpus analysis, by studying the representations of individuals who live in graphically impoverished environments, and by studying representations from individuals who might face deficits to drawing development such as blindness. As in language, we might speculate that resilient features form an innate core of abilities for the faculty of drawing, onto which more fragile features can be built.

An innate faculty like this would explain why certain features of basic drawings pervade different locations, cultures, and time periods across human history [Golomb, ; Paget, ]. It would also explain why all normally developing individuals have at least some capacity to draw, even if they do not become fully fluent, and most children naturally make graphic marks with no prompting.

All of this implies at least some biological basis for an innate drawing faculty in cognition.

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By contrast, graphic fluency involves learning the more fragile properties of a drawing system, the set of cultural conventions that facilitate a broader system of expression. Some even more fragile aspects of drawing may never be acquirable through imitation alone. For example, perspective and realistic shading, which involve vanishing points or light sources, may have to be learned or instructed from an external source.

These fragile features may be built on top of the resilient features and serve as an overriding system to those more basic functions. For example, if the resilient properties included a basic strategy of using size to depict depth i. Now we might ask, if drawing involves resilient and fragile features, does that also mean it involves a critical period? With the overall theory that drawing abilities are comparable to linguistic abilities, we can reinterpret the drop-off in the developmental trajectory of drawing ability.

If drawing does involve a critical period like language, it is worth comparing the environments and usages in which children learn to speak and draw. Children are immersed in language, often with constant encouragement to speak from communicative interactions with older speakers. They acquire language by observing and engaging in socially interactive communicative acts using that system [Kuhl, ] in which they are constantly encouraged to produce it in real-time exchanges.

By contrast, in American and European cultures, children are not exposed to an environment that uses drawing as an everyday communicative activity. Children engage in few, if any, interactions encouraging them to imitate to acquire drawing as a way to communicate directly with adults and peers. The instances in which they are able to develop their drawing abilities are few and far between, relegated to culturally specific contexts, and usually outside of actual person-to-person interactions from which, if they are imitating, they might only see the finished product of a drawing, and thus have no access to learning a production script.

Also, despite the sense that the United States and European countries are rich in images, these environments do not necessarily use a consistent visual vocabulary across all of their visual culture. Rather, diverse graphic styles permeate these societies, meaning that a child is exposed to numerous graphic dialects.

This diversity would be analogous in language to a child raised in a society where every individual speaks a different language. Which one do they acquire? This is unlike Japan, where the same style extends through nearly all facets of visual culture. In essence, the visual environment and usage of drawings in America and Europe is significantly more impoverished for drawing development than language development. In contrast, Japanese children are at least immersed in a visual culture that has a consistent, rich set of schemas.

As a result, Japanese children have substantially acquired the schemas of their visual language by the end of the critical period meaning no drop-off. Another contrasting environment comes from communities of native people in Central Australia. These communities use systems of sand drawings that feature highly conventionalized schemas used alongside speech and an auxiliary sign language that is used in multimodal storytelling as well as in everyday communication [Cox, ; Green, in press; Munn, , ; Wilkins, ].

In fact, drawing is so intertwined with communication that speakers are not considered truly fluent unless they also draw with speech [Wilkins, ]. Children in these cultures learn the system without instruction, through exposure alone, just as they do for language [Wilkins, ]. In contrast to this system where drawings function as part of interactive linguistic acts, American culture seems severely impoverished for exposure and usage of drawing.

If the development of drawing does fall within a critical period, its end would not necessarily render further learning impossible in later life. Following this time period, drawing development would simply become manifestly more difficult and further challenging if learning still does not imitate a vocabulary of graphic schemas and likely require concerted effort, in contrast to the relative ease within the critical period.

This is the same as in spoken language. Learning a language becomes significantly more difficult after puberty for most people, as many adults learning a second language can attest. Finally, it should be acknowledged that, like language, evidence for a critical period for drawing has not been explored specifically and certainly not with this perspective in mind. J Exp Child Psychol ; 86 2 : Language networks in children: evidence from functional MRI studies.

Literacy experience plan: Drawing as writing

When words fail us: insights into language processing from developmental and acquired disorders. For the purpose of this article, we only consider the first perspective a proposed by Bishop et al. What we talk about when we talk about access deficits. In their review of research on lexical-semantic access deficits, they point to the possibility that EF is involved in semantic control. For instance, when a person hears a spoken word, a number of candidate lexical entries are activated; word identification requires modulating activation and inhibition, so that activation of the incorrect competitors is suppressed and the difference of their activation from the correct entry is maximized.

In particular, they considered the influence of mental attention capacity, inhibition, shifting and updating on language in school-children with typical development and children with SLI. From this research, some relevant findings emerged: 1 updating mediates the relationship between mental attention capacity and language; 2 inhibition contributes indirectly to language through its relation with mental attentional capacity.

Also, studies with younger children with SLI reported their poor performance in some cognitive measures. For example, Marton [ 52 Marton K. Visuo-spatial processing and executive functions in children with specific language impairment. Int J Lang Commun Disord ; 43 2 : A number of studies consider the relationships between language development and cognitive processing in young children with typical development.

The most studied cognitive component in relation to language in young children seems to be inhibition. Inhibitory control predicts grammatical ability. PLoS One ; 10 12 : e Viterbori et al. Cozzani et al. Linguistic abilities and executive function in the third year of life. Associations also emerged between shifting and language. Executive function predicts artificial language learning.

J Mem Lang ; Nat Protoc ; 1 1 : In sum, although few studies considered the joint influence of WM and EF on language in toddlers and preschoolers, there is empirical support for a relation between language and each of these components of the cognitive system in children with typical development, and for their involvement in impaired language development. In the previous sections, we discussed theories and empirical evidence regarding the relationship between drawing and language, and the relation of each of these representational systems separately considered with domain-general cognitive resources and processes, such as WM and EF.

We think that the time is ripe for researchers to aim at proposing and testing comprehensive models of the developmental relationships between representational systems and with their cognitive underpinnings in young children. Based on the evidence reviewed in the previous sections, in this one, we discuss how such models could be framed, and we propose a set of nine alternative models, constructed by crossing systematically 3x3 alternatives in two independent conceptual dimensions. Most studies suggest that there is a relation between drawing and language [ 5 Piaget J.

It is therefore conceivable that language influences drawing, at least at an early stage, when children are acquiring the capability for representational drawing. Furthermore, considering the relations in young children between drawing and cognitive processing [ 40 Morra S.

Thus, WM and EF might influence the development of drawing and language, representing a shared cognitive underpinning that explains at least in part their common variance. To formulate these models, we also need to consider the literature about the structure of WM and EF in young children. Executive function in preschoolers: A review using an integrative framework. Psychol Bull ; 1 : Using confirmatory factor analysis to understand executive control in preschool children: I.

Latent structure. Dev Psychol ; 44 2 : The structure of executive function in 3-year-olds. J Exp Child Psychol ; 3 : A latent variable approach to determining the structure of executive function in preschool children. J Cogn Dev ; 13 3 : Latent structure of executive function in five and six-year-old children: A longitudinal study.

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Eur J Dev Psychol ; Executive functions underlying multiplicative reasoning: problem type matters. La Casetta Magica. Psicol Clin Sviluppo ; 21 3 : A new measure of updating for pre-schoolers]. It is also debated whether inhibition should better be regarded as an executive function among others, or a general-purpose attentional resource that underlies all executive functions and, in a sense, unifies the field [ 33 Miyake A, Friedman NP, Emerson MJ, Witzki AH, Howerter A, Wager TD. The nature and organization of individual differences in executive functions: Four general conclusions.

Curr Dir Psychol Sci ; 21 1 : Thus, considering both the possible relationships between WM and EF in young children and the possible effects of language and general cognitive resources on drawing, we can outline nine alternative models, each of which represents a combination of theoretical claims made in the literature and supported at least partly by some empirical evidence. The columns represent three different ways in which language and general cognitive resources influence drawing:. There might not be a single model valid throughout early development, because the relationships among the considered components may change in time.

Indeed, the existing evidence — albeit sparse — suggests that some models are more plausible in very young children and others in older ones. For instance, a unitary WM and EF construct such as in the first row may be valid for younger children, but two factors should rather be distinguished as in the second and third row after about age 4 or 5 [ 34 Morra S, Panesi S, Traverso L, Usai MC. Some evidence indicates a direct influence of language on drawing in younger children [ 29 Callaghan TC.

Two Tips on Creative Growth from the Language of Drawing

Also working memory capacity and executive functions seem to be involved in the early phases of drawing development [ 41 Riggs KJ, Jolley RP, Simpson A. In contrast, models e and h could be more promising at about age 5. A dialectical constructivist view of developmental intelligence. Handbook of understanding and measuring intelligence ; In this paper, we summarized the different views proposed in the literature regarding these relationships and made them explicit in the form of nine alternative and testable models that consider the relations among basic cognitive processes WM, inhibition, shifting and updating , drawing and language.

We think that the relations between these components may change during the early years of life, considering that language can play an important role in the transition from non-representational to representational drawing, and that WM and EF could represent a shared cognitive underpinning of drawing and language, which could explain at least in part their common variance.

Both authors made substantial, direct and intellectual contributions to the conception, writing and editing of the work, and approved it for publication. This is exactly what Open Access Journals provide and this is the reason why I support this endeavor. Open Access publishing is therefore of utmost importance for wider dissemination of information, and will help serving the best interest of the scientific community. They offer accessible information to a wide variety of individuals, including physicians, medical students, clinical investigators, and the general public.

They are an outstanding source of medical and scientific information. Indeed, the research articles span a wide range of area and of high quality. This is specially a must for researchers belonging to institutions with limited library facility and funding to subscribe scientific journals. They provide easy access to the latest research on a wide variety of issues.

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In this perspective, open access journals are instrumental in fostering researches and achievements. Open access journals offer a good alternative for free access to good quality scientific information. Many people from institutions which do not have library or cannot afford to subscribe scientific journals benefit of them on a daily basis. The articles are among the best and cover most scientific areas. The articles are of high quality and broad scope.

This option opens several quite interesting possibilities to disseminate openly and freely new knowledge and even to facilitate interpersonal communication among scientists. The articles published in the open access journals are high quality and cover a wide range of fields. The papers published are of high quality after rigorous peer review and they are Indexed in: major international databases.

I read Open Access journals to keep abreast of the recent development in my field of study. Researchers, faculty members, and students will be greatly benefited by the new journals of Bentham Science Publishers Ltd. Open URL Guidelines. Announcing New Journal Website. Abstract Background: Extensive research examined the development of both language and drawing, but the relationship between these symbolic representation systems is less investigated and controversial.

Objective: This article reviews the relevant literature and, as a synthesis, outlines a set of models that future research could use to specify the developmental relations between language, drawing, working memory, and executive functions. Drawing and Language: Four theoretical positions are discussed: a drawing and language emerge from the same general-domain symbolic resource; b drawing and language as two independent systems; c drawing as a form of language d drawing influenced by language.

Drawing as Language and How Comic Artists Teach it

Executive Functions and Working Memory: The literature on the role of executive functions and working memory in the development of either drawing or language is rather fragmentary, but on the whole, it indicates that these domain-general cognitive resources and abilities are involved in supporting the development of these representation systems. Listen to a song. After 10—20 seconds, pause the music. Ask your child to draw whatever comes into their head. Play another 10—20 seconds, pause and draw again. Keep doing this until the song finishes. Your child should have several drawings.

Ask your child to write a short story to go with their pictures. Then encourage them to draw their own story pictures and label them using English words and phrases. Speaking activities: Our Speaking tests use lots of pictures and photos. They are an excellent way to help children start talking about something. At the end, compare the drawing with the original picture. In A1 Movers and A2 Flyers , children are told the name of a story and given time to look at some pictures.

Give them some thinking time. Ask them to look carefully at all the pictures.

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