11 May 2015
Prof. Blagomir Papazov, PhD
Konstantin Preslavsky University of Shumen
BSTRACT: Expressiveness is a kind of reflection in an art-pictorial form of a child’s individual thinking, of their impressions and experiences. Children’s art expressiveness together with the arts literacy is one of the basic criteria for the assessment of the final results. It has the harmonic unity of the concrete unique expressive means subject to the “naturalness” and “uniqueness” of children’s creativity.
KEY WORDS: children’s fine arts activities, education, arts expressiveness, expressive means, children’s drawing
The terms pictorialness and expressiveness are often identified as being one and the same in the theory and practice of fine arts. Pictorialness encompasses a system of esthetically organized signs aiming at differentiating specific artistic information while expressiveness is the effect of the whole impact of the used expressive means strengthened by emotional charge. Their determinacy is based on their mutual capability of treating the peculiarities of the artistic expression in fine arts but at the same time they are also the two sides in the artistic creativeness because they can predetermine two different types of representation. Expressiveness is a quality intrinsic to the sign; it is its qualitative characteristics and is a kind of a derivative result of the sign function of the image. In his work Art and Visual Perception the American art expert Rudolf Arnheim defines expressiveness as the crowning point of all perceptive categories, each of which helps its rise; it is the quality which practically turns out to be the most significant feature of the fine arts work. Wassiliy Kandinski – one of the founders of abstract art – thinks that each work of art should contain an “expression” in order to have a reason for its existence.
Children’s art expressiveness could be seen in the individual estimate and the choice of the used idea and compositional solutions, expressive means, materials and techniques which lead to the emotional and artistic effect of the pictorial solution. It is connected to a great extent with the person’s sensitivity to the topic, the plot and the message of the art product. Expressiveness is a kind of reflection in an art-image form of a child’s individual thinking, of their impressions and experiences. Children’s artistic expressiveness together with the pictorial literacy are some of the basic criteria for the assessment of the obtained results. It bears that harmonious unity of the concrete unique expressive means subject to the naturalness and uniqueness of children’s creativeness. Some of the basic indices of the assessment of the level of children’s artistic expressiveness are: “the content (idea) of a child’s art product” and “the unity of the used expressive means”.
The first index is linked with the child’s ability to exert their individual opinion in making decisions connected with the concrete idea or content and the type of image irrespective of the genre (thematic drawing, landscape, figural composition, illustration, etc.). Artistic expressiveness is much stronger, as a way of impression, when the child decides on the content of the drawings without applying familiar and popular ways or schemes as solutions. When specifying the idea and the compositional structure the child should not be influenced by their classmates. The same refers to the cases when children use memorized solutions from illustrations, cartoons or other popular sources. If the content is a result of a child’s original individual decision then in such cases the teacher has to assess and encourage the “child’s initiative”. In defining the idea of the child’s drawing there are other factors the more significant among them being the choice and availability of unity between space, colours, as well as the achieving of a plot and meaningful connection between the compositional elements.
In early school age one of the most common negative cases in defining the content as an index of expressiveness, is the so-called stereotypes in children’s drawing. They could be explained with the presence of repetition and stability of a definite type of images in children’s artistic activities, which leads to conventional solutions in defining the character of the drawings. Their appearance is provoked by the ambition and wish for correspondence and likeness of the so far familiar image, which is characteristic of this age. Stereotypeness appears as early as pre-school age and in some cases it remains stable in early school grades when drawing human forms. Those so-called stereotypes or artistic schemes are a normal peculiarity in children’s artistic activities but they can also have a dynamic character in developing in a positive way by enriching one and the same artistic forms and elements with new expressive means. One of the basic reasons for the presence of stereotypical images in primary school is didactic and methodological omissions in the educational process made by the teachers. In order to overcome the stereotypes it is necessary to create conditions for disclosing the inexhaustible diversity and uniqueness of the forms, objects and phenomena of the surrounding environment, to activate contacts with art works as a means of education. Of no less importance are the classes which create condition for expanding the possibilities of showing the versatility and independence of thought processes and first of all pupils’ variational thinking which is the basis of any creative process. The second basic index for diagnosing a child’s expressiveness is connected with children’s abilities to use the artistic possibilities and unity of expressive means. Dependent on the idea of the child’s artistic product, the expressive means are the object of the whole fine arts educational process. In this permanent process the volume of artistic knowledge and practical skills is constantly developing in a qualitative and quantitative aspect. The unity of the artistic expressive means is a complex and multi-component index. It reflects the wealth and diversity of expressive means of pictorial and graphic drawing as well as of the plastic-volume expression. The assessment of its development is most often directed at determining children’s artistic-expressive abilities of colourful expressiveness, sense of rhythm, balance, contrast, skill of highlighting the compositional centre, expressing a characteristic pose, static or “moving” human form, deformation and so on.
The participation of colours as an expressive means is one of the basic indexes for achieving a high level of children’s expressiveness in education and upbringing through fine arts. Expressive means of painting have a direct relation to its artistic imagery and because of that their participation exerts important influence in acquiring experience in fine arts. Along with the basic knowledge about colour children become gradually acquainted with its other expressive components like the colour tone, the colouring, the colour spot and the colour line, the colour scale, the local colours, the colour contrast, the nuances, the shades and so on. What the pictorial expressive means can do undoubtedly depends on the knowledge and use of the different artistic materials and techniques.
During the period of primary school age the quantity of the utilized colours increases, one can notice the preference of some colours to others as well as attempts at achieving merging colours; there is a striving for mixing two or more colours. The Right methodological approach for expanding pupils’ knowledge of the possibilities of colour expression is particularly important at this age. After the third grade it is advisable to include tasks aimed at attempts of reflecting space and volume through warm and cold colours. Special attention should be paid on the importance of contrast, accent and wealth of the other expressive means of the colour. The forming of the so-called “colour culture” in primary school children is an important tasks got fine arts teachers.
The expressed sense of rhythm in fine arts is connected with the ability to achieve repetition of related quantities and values. Besides in plot compositions rhythm takes part in ornaments and motifs of decorative and applied arts. Depending on the type, space, ways of positioning and the quantity of rhythmic images there is a different level of artistic expressiveness. It is not uncommon for children to use skillfully rhythm in their figural compositions as well – by using in succession figures, forms, spots and so on.
The use of equilibrium, symmetry and balance as expressive means creates different associative impacts in the organization of the compositional solution. The degree of their mastering differs and depends mainly on the teacher’s advice in their practical activity. Besides through concrete images and objects equilibrium, symmetry and balance could also be achieved with the inclusion of colour spots and the main type of lines – straight, curved, wavy, seesaw, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, plastic, stroke and so on.
Contrast expresses the juxtaposition of opposite expressive qualities in form, size, colour, degree of light and spatiality. The use of contrast as an expressive means is characteristic even of very young children but we are not talking about intention here as it is connected with the so-called “emotional hierarchy” in children, which shows the significance of the image (e.g. the “mother’s” image is bigger compare to the rest).It is only at primary school that the first attempts at including contrast as an element of purposeful artistic expression are made. Contrast in pupils’ drawings is present mainly in making concrete definite images with the exclusive aim of highlighting their meaning in accordance with the plot theme. The use of contrast strengthens the opposition between the positive and negative characters. Very often the “good” characters are portrayed in larger sizes and in greater detail. Contrast is a characteristic feature in landscape drawings where the main opposition is between warm and cold or light and dark colours.
The skill of emphasizing the compositional centre develops gradually with the increase of pupils’ artistic literacy. There are attempts at accentuating the most significant image with the help of different artistic methods at primary school level. It is often done by combining the place of the compositional centre with the geometric centre of the drawing sheet of paper, as well as with highlighting them with the help of the bright or contrastive colours. Detailing the main image is another very often met method used by the children to accentuate the compositional centre. One of the most successful solutions in children’s thematic drawing is the cases when the compositional center does not overlap the geometric centre of the drawing sheet of paper but in spite of that the composition is balanced with other artistic methods. Such non-standard decisions made by the pupils should be encouraged. They show a higher degree of skills for compositional build-up and in most cases enhance the expressiveness of the children’s drawing.
At primary- school level some of the children cope successfully with one not so easy problem for this age group, namely depicting a characteristic pose or movement while drawing a human figure. The early phases of children’s drawings are characterized by an entirely static representation of the human figure. The images of people are not overburdened with the necessity of presenting movement or a concrete pose while static character is something natural for such types of drawings. By gradually including the surrounding environment in the children’s drawing, with the increase of its “narrative” character we can detect certain tendencies of attempts at “moving” of the human form of searching for a characteristic pose. Striving to “describe” in detail the images or to “tell” about them through the drawing, children present concrete situations hinting at movement. Such a way of building up the drawing supposes attempts of portraying of figures in dynamic poses, which naturally raises the level of children’s artistic expressiveness. Other method have some influence too – like the predominant vertical or diagonal lines which cause a sense of dynamics, and vice versa – more horizontal lines show peace and balance.
The use of asymmetry in children’s compositional solution can also enhance expressiveness. Sometimes the asymmetric position of images and figures can activate the associations of movement and dynamics. Such influences are also characteristic of using the juxtaposition of tonality and the power of colour spots, lines and strokes.
Deformation as an expressive means in children’s artistic activities is one of the often met specific ways of creating images and objects. While with professional artist deformation is a deliberate change of the structure of the forms with the aim of enhancing expressiveness and presenting the author’s idea more convincingly, in children’s artistic activities it is connected with the degree of mastering artistic skills and opportunities for creating concrete images. The presence of deformation in children’s creative work should not be connected exclusively with the relatively low level of artistic abilities of the young artists. Sometimes a child is a real participator of the images and characters they have drawn. This supposes their link with the portrayed events despite the presence of deformation and irrespective of whether the images are real or fictitious.
The prevailing part in children’s artistic activities is a child’s subjective attitude to creating the form, proportions, colours and other elements of the image. This attitude could be seen ib the expressions of artistic deformation. As a particular expressive means artistic deformation has various forms of presentation. Its use leads to hyperbolisation, restructuring of images, agglutination, associative images, metaphorical transfer of images, symbolization, personification, and so on. One could also note in children’s drawings the use of colour deformation (the change of one local colour with another, non-typical and characteristic). The presence of expressive deformations should not be considered as mistakes made by the children because it is their “child manner” and it does not trouble them, in the contrary – this way of drawing brings them real pleasure. The aim of a child’s drawing is not create objects as a result of their visual projection but as a form of reflection of a child’s emotional sensitivity. The concreteness of their vision could even diminish a child’s interest and up to a certain age it is not the main purpose of artistic activity. Thanks to deformation, besides the unique of this age expressiveness, a specific child’s “naivety” stands out.
The increase in requirements connected with the participation of deformation as a means of expressiveness and the wish of the grown-ups to make the children objectively present the artistic form leads in many cases to an incorrect methodological approach.
Children’s creative work amazes us with its open-hearted sincerity, spontaneity and naturalness. The expressed fantasy, the presence of “lightness” in portraying, the resourcefulness and the characteristic child “idea” in making artistic decisions makes us compare at times the expressiveness of their drawings with the works of professional artists. Each product of a child portraying reflects a certain level of the development of a child’s abilities. Children’s artistic activities are a peculiar index of the unity of knowledge and action, skill and creativeness, of spontaneity and interpretation. If we regard a child’s artistic product only as a result and do not trace the beginning, motivation and strategy of the artistic solution, we will not comprehend in their entirety the deductions and conclusions about the achievements and charm a child’s drawing gives us.
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