One of the things I explain to the parents of children who are taking drawing lessons is that it might take time for their children to integrate what I am teaching them into their own free drawing time. Generally, my rule of thumb is that kids under 10 years old will integrate their lessons more slowly than kids over 10 years old. There will always be exceptions to that rule, but that age marks a turning point in a child’s brain development that makes it easier for them to try a lesson with me, extract the essential skill sets and apply them to a new drawing situation.
Ellie is 11 years old and began lessons with me in July 2013, with her three siblings. Once school began, Ellie continued lessons with me alone. Over the course of last summer and this school year, we have met for 37 hours of drawing time. The last ten or so hours of lessons, Ellie elected to work on portraiture. The practice, where I taught her the basics of each facial structure and how to measure and place them, resulted in a completed portrait, which is shown below. She did great work, and has a lot of patience!
The week following our completion of this portrait, Ellie came in to her lesson and said her Mom thought she was so masterful that she should be able to draw on demand. I suggested we do a before and after drawing comparison, as a way for us to see what she’s learned and where there are gaps so we can hone those skills in our future lessons. We looked back at Ellie’s first day of lessons, where she drew the plastic toy sheep that you see above, on the left. Then we got out the same toy, and without any guidance from me, Ellie sat quietly and drew the sheep again. The result you’ll see is on the right side of the first image above.
In just 37 hours of practice, Ellie was able to remember the very first lesson I gave her and began her drawing in the new way that I taught her last July. She then made her own corrections, and shaded the sheep so that it looks three dimensional using the basic skill sets I gave her throughout her first 10-15 lessons. And voila, Mom, you’ve got a patient, observant, problem solving kid, independently drawing on demand! Isn’t that cool???? I’m really proud of Ellie’s hard work, and so happy to see such a transformation in her abilities.