Repetition and Representation

I have had the pleasure of watching G as she explores representing her mother through painting and drawing.  It probably is not finished, but the way that her representation changed this last week really struck me.

From the first days of preschool, she was painting a simple version of her mom.






She explored her mother one morning in watercolors, painting her over and over again.  Each of the scans above also has a painting on the back.

The representation shifted a week ago when we introduced book writing at morning meeting.  G got up from meeting and immediately went to the pre-made books and created this.





A few days later, I observed her as she drew at the whiteboard easel:







The representation has shifted, and different details are important to G.  The drawing in the book and on the whiteboard are similar, just as all of the previous paintings were.  How long will G work on this representation of her mother?  

In the incredibly wonderful Its Not a Bird Yet, Ursula Kolbe shares ideas about depicting people and animals:

"...early figure drawings show few details.  A circular shape can stand for a head, face, the hair, and at first a torso with arms as well.  Children's representations are pictorial equivalents of things - not attempts to make realistic copies.  They know far more than they convey in a drawing...children's drawings are not 'printouts' of what they know." (2005, p. 17).
G knows much more about her mother than she is sharing here.  But a combination of learning about materials and how to use them to represent her mother plays a role here.  For me, one of the most interesting moments in my observations of G's work representing her mother was when we were using clay, and she rolled out a snake shape and bent it in half.  "That reminds me of your mother's hair, in your drawings!" I said to her.  She looked at me very seriously and said, "No, this is a horseshoe."  That moment could have gone either way, with her beginning to make a representation of her mother out of clay, or choosing not to use that medium to explore the representation.  In my mind, making that proposal was going to set us off on an exploration of representing people with clay.  But, it was neither the time nor the place for that conversation or activity.

I'm interested to see what G creates on paper this week, and to see if she decides that another medium is worth exploring!