It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Figure Drawing

“Can I colour?”

It is Anna’s first utterance upon walking through the door. No, “Hello, Mary!”, nor “It’s very snowy out there!”, or even “Get your nose out of my face, Indie!”

“Can I colour?”

These days I keep a pile of paper and a basket of crayons on the table at all times, so Anna can satisfy her obsession. At three and… two months (?), three (?), Anna has moved past random scribbles. She is now drawing with an intention to produce an image.

In her case, faces. Faces and faces and faces. Faces with eyes, nose, mouth, and hair. No ears, yet. As the weeks went by, the faces sprouted arms and legs, and then, in a final burst of anatomical finesse, hands and feet. No fingers or toes yet, and it will be a little while before an actual body shows up. In the toddler world, arms and legs always spring direct from the head.

The steady deluge of a month of faces and people has made an impact on at least one other child. Last week, Emily decided that she, too, would produce a person. A person, mind you, not just a face.

I had an idea. I gave them card stock instead of the usual scrap paper. I sketched out for Emily in general terms what would be required. “First you’ll need a head.” I swirl my fingertip in a circle over the card stock. “A head with eyes and nose and mouth. And then you’ll probably want arms and legs,” stroking, linear motions, “and maybe even hands and feet.” I touch the card at four spots. Then I left them to it.

And here’s what they did:


Anna’s is on the right, Emily’s on the left. Anna’s has eyes and hair, Emily’s is blind and bald. Anna’s is just “a girl, like me.” Emily’s is “a boy named George.” So there.

Why are they cut out? Because these are not just (yet another) drawing. These are paper dolls!

George is a boy, so he, so I was told, needed overalls. I produced them. Anna’s is a girl, and she needed a “long, long dress with buttons and ruffles.”

After all that hard work drawing, they were not interested in colouring in their clothes, so I did that, too, again under direction as to colours.



December 8, 2008 - Posted by | Anna, crafts, Developmental stuff, Emily | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. too cute! my son is 3 yo and 3 months but has yet to produce anything but a scribble! over at kids craft weekly, she had suggested adding cut up yarn to be the hair on faces like these. my son loved that! we did them over and over! i bet anna and emily would like that too!

    Comment by Dana | December 8, 2008 | Reply

  2. That’s great! I never thought of paper dolls!

    My guy is not all that into drawing (he much prefers imaginative play with his trucks and tractors and… well, pretty much anything from my kitchen drawers). But when he does draw (for all of 2 1/2 minutes, usually) it’s heads with eyes, noses, mouths and then arm and legs sprouting from them. It’s amazing how their minds work…

    Comment by rosie_kate | December 8, 2008 | Reply

  3. What a great idea. I loved paper dolls as a kid and even made my own, but I never would have thought of it for toddlers.

    You so inspire…now if only I had some tots around to share this with. 😛

    Comment by Zayna | December 8, 2008 | Reply

  4. That’s adorable.

    You just reminded me of one of my favorite books, Drawing With Children it’s all about working with 3 and up on how they see things to draw them. Lots of fun. My dad is an artist and art teacher so I grew up with it drawing. I found this book a few years back and I love it it’s really good at building foundations. You might have fun with it too. 🙂

    Comment by carrien (she laughs at the days) | December 10, 2008 | Reply

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