This is my favorite new section of my blog to write, as I have great student results to share with you over the years I have been teaching private lessons. Each Student in the Spotlight post will detail a student’s learning and results in the studio with me. Let’s start with Avery, who is now a few years into high school.
Rewind to 2016, when former LZM Student, Avery, was a freshman in high school, able to fit an art class into her elective schedule for the first time since Elementary School. This is when Avery got to return to the drawing skills we’d built at LZM Studio during the critical ages of 8-10, that had laid dormant for some time. When challenged to draw from a photograph in her new art class, Avery accomplished this drawing below, (accompanied by her reference photograph). Can you tell which is the drawing and which is the photograph? The drawing is above; the photo is below. It is pretty impressive and even won a State-wide competition!
This is why I reassure parents – don’t worry when you don’t see your kids drawing in the style I teach when they are outside of my class. They will leave my lessons and draw stick figures, cartoons, things that don’t look 3D and aren’t shaded. This is appropriate for their development. Let’s be honest, most 8-year-olds are not inherently overly-patient, manually dexterous, crafts-people on par with adults! But still, I assure you, do not worry that you don’t see your kids drawing shaded still life pears outside of our lessons! They are small sponges, soaking up my teaching and their brains won’t un-learn it.
Why is that? The brain development from age 8-12 primes the pump for learning to draw – just as certain ages are great for absorbing second language skills. Without drawing instruction during these years, the majority of students who drew while they were 5, 6 and 7 just quit drawing- because they can see that their drawings don’t look “right”, but might not know how to fix them on their own. If there is no one there to show them the way, they often find other pursuits where they are more readily rewarded. This is why the majority of my adult students arrive in the studio stating that they draw stick figures like an 8-year-old. That is where they left off their drawing practice and stopped developing skills.
Avery worked with me during the pivotal ages of 8-10, stopping lessons when she transitioned to Middle School. Many parents have a harder time making the drive to my studio while factoring in Middle School release times and homework loads. 3rd-5th grades are the most common school-aged student I work with – and it is the prime time to learn to draw. Avery did a great job learning my college-level curriculum while in her last years of Elementary School and applied it to age-appropriate projects that fit her interests, like this Littlest Pet Shop bunny drawing (below) that we did together.
And then as soon as she was given the opportunity to draw as a young teen, she picked up where we left off: with an understanding of proportion and shading, and the manual dexterity to deliver in her first drawing project in years. The moral of this tale? Your young students are absorbing how to see like an artist, developing muscle memory and building a foundation they can return to when they are older. Just like learning to ride a bike when you’re young, you can leave drawing skills for years, and discover them again with new practice at an older age.