Storytelling through art

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JeansPics_02-2010_Pic0970 

Maia's been drawing up a storm the last few days. She goes through phases, both of drawing (or not drawing) in general and of drawing realistic vs abstract images. She's still an enthusiastic scribbler! But at the moment she's drawing detailed pictures and telling elaborate stories to go with them.

In the photo above, she's telling me, "This is a mama monster scrubbing her baby monster in the tub with a yellow sponge." She went on and on and I got the gist of the rest but was too busy taking photos and writing down the first part to get it all. She said these monsters have claws and hurt the bad guys in the night but are really friendly to nice people.

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And this is a picture of two volcanoes with hot lava spurting out. In between are a bunch of colored balloons rising because of the hot air.

In both instances she drew things that she's somewhat afraid of (volcanoes and monsters and nighttime) and created an interesting story to go with them. Perhaps this helps her think about and deal with her fears?

I wish I knew what her thought process was while creating these. Did the story come first or after she stepped back and examined what she had drawn? She often changes her story as she's telling it, so I'm assuming after, at least to a degree. But I don't know.


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  1. says

    Those are great stories and illustrations! Have you made any blank books for her? Camille is currently in a book writing phase. I bind paper together on the sewing machine and sew a bunch of books at one time (stapling would work fine,too). Sometimes she dictates stories for me to write and she will illustrate them. Other times she writes and illustrates them all herself. She also enjoys having a variety of book sizes. This is a great age, isn’t it? I’ll try to post some of Camille’s books soon.

  2. says

    I was just reading the kids the first chapter of the original Peter Pan last night (their current obsession) and there is a big part on “the neverland” in kids minds and how moms try to pick through the various thoughts after they go to sleep. It made me smile, though I don’t think my little ones exactly understood what was going on. Also, I can empathize with Maya — I was terrified of volcanoes as a kid too (we had so many in mid Michigan) and my dad got some National Geographic books that we had a good look through to work out the scaries.

  3. says

    great post… which leads me to a question. i’ve taken lots of notes on the stories my sons have told me while/after they’re drawing… i mean TONS, and now i’m faced with the daunting task of storing all these treasures. any advice/tips/plans you have for keeping maia’s work? do you keep everything?

  4. says

    I started out keeping everything, but don’t anymore. There’s just too much! I put everything in flat storage boxes labeled by year (http://artfulparent.typepad.com/artfulparent/2008/02/organizing-and-storing-maias-art.html). I sort some before they go in the boxes and then sort again at the end of the year, keeping what I consider the best, the most interesting, and the milestones. Maia’s probably about at the age where she can help choose herself what she wants to keep in her “portfolio” although I haven’t let her know yet that I’m not keeping everything.
    Would love to hear others thoughts on this…

  5. says

    I love when my 6yo tells stories to go with her art. One of my favorite pieces on our walls is a picture she drew with the story she dictated taped up below it.
    I have a similar system for saving art. When the girls finish a piece, they put it in a finished projects bin. I sort through it periodically and put it in a box to save for that year. Then I go through that box and pare it down every few months. My 6yo knows I don’t keep everything and occasionally sorts some herself but I still do most of the culling.

  6. Lindsay R says

    thanks so much, jean. right now, most of it is in upright hanging files (my oldest, especially, is fond of drawing on printer-sized paper), but i just have soooo much! and now there are THREE kiddos with stuff to organize! i guess one of my problems is attachment to every little thing they touch and staying on top of it so i don’t get overwhelmed. do you have an archive on your blog?

  7. says

    Hi Jean, It’s interesting that she draws ‘scary’ things but makes them safe. My daughter (3) often acts out scary experiences in her play. The first time she was left a creche she spent weeks playing creche – sometimes she’d be the carers, sometimes she’d be herself and othertimes she’d play me. It was funny in that she knew where I was but not what I was doing so when she acted out me she went and sat facing the wall ‘watching Masterchef’.