Descriptive Analysis of Nigerian Children Human Figure Drawings: A Developmental Approach

Article excerpt

Art is a symbolic means of communication through which man can communicate his inner needs, desires and worries. Children find art a good means of communicating what ordinarily, they may not be able to describe orally. This study was on description of Nigerian children human figure art using Lowenfeld and Brittain (1970) developmental model. The participants were five hundred and twenty six (526) children drawn from population of primary and junior secondary schools from two towns in Northern and Southern Nigeria respectively. They included three hundred and eight (308) females and two and eighteen (218) males. Their ages ranged between 6 to 13 years. Their (18) males. Their ages ranged between 6 to 13 years. Their M age was 9.84 and SD age was 2.08. The analysis of the drawing showed developmental sequences on human figure drawings of children. Every age had their peculiarities on the drawings that differed from that of other ages. The developmental peculiarities were analyzed on such factors as spatial relationships, sexual orientations, socio-cultural and image representations. Implications of the study for early diagnosis and intervention on children were discussed.

Art is a symbolic means of communication. Through this means, unconscious thought processes of human persons can be known. Art forms are present in all cultures no matter how simple or complex, apparently an innate creative impulse exists in man. The history of art provides a visual index to prehistory and to civilizations through the ages in that art is found in every culture and given testimony to the universal importance of man's use of graphic elements in his expressive life (Booe, 1980). Whatever its purpose, it is a uniquely human experience. Art has been a part of man's history for thousands of years and can be traced to the earliest cave drawings. Different races had sought to identify their ancestral existence through arts and archaeological discoveries. Through artistic and archaeological discoveries in Igbo-Ukwu - a village 25 miles south east of Onitsha, Nigeria - of a team of researchers led by Professor Shaw Thurstan, it is now believed that some ancient Ibo people had settled in the area earlier than the 9th century and had communicated and lived with one another (Onwubiko, 1972). Thus artistic expressions were as old as human existence. Children are not an exception to the use of language "arts". Among the earlier researchers on the children's arts was Kellogg's (1967) cross cultural study of children's arts. Drawings by children from each of the 30 different cultures in the study were so similar that the natural origin of the child could not be determined. It was only after the child perceived his own particular culture and developed his own style that differences were noted. Prior to this study, limited attention was given to the systematic study of children's art until Ballard's (1958) work in 1912, when he reported on the subject matter of approximately 20,000 children living in London. He found that interest in human figure drawings declined at about the age of 9, then rose slightly and dropped again after the age of 12.

There are many needs which children drawings serve. Children's drawings represent original self expression; they represent how children perceive reality. Furthermore, society's tendency to move toward complexity increase stress. In childhood, there are unlimited stresses or anxiety producing situations, which are compounded by the child's helplessness in controlling his environment. The way in which he interprets his experience is probably one of the most important factor that influences his adjustment to it. Awareness of the child's interpretation of a stressful situation and meaning it has for him can be discovered through the media of art (Booe, 1980). Thus, this paper was on the analysis of normal Nigeria children human figure drawings as was done in London by Lowenfeld and Brittan (1970). Their work established parameters for interpretation of children art in a developmental sequence. …