Monday, April 25, 2005

Where's the Juice?

"Treasure Map" by Caleb age 4. Crayon.

I have an idea about why boys draw pictures differently than girls. I was checking out Ava's thursday picture over at Ward's blog.. and once again I asked myself why Caleb's drawings and paintings look so completely different from hers.. being ~ the same age and all...

See that picture up there? Do you have any idea what that is? It looks like complete insanity. But why would a healthy, intellegent boy draw complete insanity? Ah.. let's ask him. "So tell me Caleb, what exactly is this a picture of"? (In my mind, I'm trained to look for things that make sense.. like faces, shapes, etc.)
Caleb said, "That's a map."

Ok... I guess that works.. but it still doesn't answer my question.. why does it look so crazy?

Of course, the answer lies not in the end result, but in the production. I needed to watch him make one of these creations.

So I watched... and guess what.. I got it.

Almost all of his art works are "performance" pieces. He's playing, that's it. He draws a line and tells me, "this is the ship (or other vehicle), and it flies this way and.. Oh NO! there's a missle.. watch out!! and CRASH! (insert little boy sound effects) Ahh! Bang! Splash.. I got the Treasure.. run! run!"... you get the point.

Those aren't faces on the picture. That's machine gun fire. There's no expectation for him to actually draw anything. This is art in motion. Some kids just simply draw what we think they're supposed to do. They draw objects and people. I'm generalizing of course. But it makes sense to me.

I love his mind. Back when he was 2 years old, he used to call any liquid "juice". Milk, water, soda, a swimming pool.. they were all filled with "juice".

One day it was raining and I found him plastered up against the back window staring at the flood of water running through the back yard. He turned and looked at me and said, "Daddy, where's the Juice"? I smiled and nodded in the direction of the water and said, "It's out there Caleb". He'd turn and look, and then he'd ask me again. Over and over. Intrigued in the motion. The confusion of it all.

So.. I tried to capture it. You know.. the motion.. the dynamic of his mind. A little boy's mind.

This is as close as I could get... enjoy.

Where's the Juice? (c) 2003 William Cushman (6:23 / 5.9Mb)
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Ward Jenkins said...

This is a great post. I love the way kids' minds work. I think that that was very important to watch Caleb draw as the means justify the ends, in this case. Almost a "you had to be there" moment for the viewer.

Ava's drawings are very different than from her classmates in her preschool. I think it's because of her surroundings at home and how she looks at things. She really LOOKS. And then she puts it down on paper what she sees. She'll create some stories that are fantasy, of course, but she'll continually resort to a visual library of sorts when she sits down to draw a scene or something.

Boys are different than girls when it comes to certain things, but I'm not sure about the way they draw. Of course, I'm probably wrong -- but I'll be sure to get back to you when Ezra starts to pick up that crayon. (He's only 10 months old now.)

Thanks for the conversation, and very nice music. I listened to this current piece while I typed my comment out.

Paul Cantrell said...

Agreed with Ward -- this is a great post, but I think you really miss the mark trying to explain it in terms of boys vs. girls, when really it is Caleb vs. Ava vs. Anja vs. Maya vs. Sara vs.... Kids are astonishingly different from one another!

CuShMaN said...

You both are probably right. I was just making an observation that seemed to make sense to me. I'm looking at a drawing made of "Uncle Bill" by my niece right after she turned 3. It is amazing to me. Caleb isn't even close to that level of detail. At first I thought it was just him.. so I went looking at a wall of pictures drawn by all the boys and girls in Caleb's sunday school class.. all around the same age.

It seemed obvious which ones were made by girls and which ones boys.

I'm just generalizing...there are plenty of exceptions.. and in no way am I saying that Ava's amazing depth of detail is the Norm. This isn't a competition or a "Versus" situation. I was just wondering about differences in methodology between the sexes. I believe that they are different.

Ward Jenkins said...

I do feel that you are onto something there, though. There's been studies showing how males differ from females when it comes to gathering information and dealing with it. Why men are more into sports numbers and figures, able to document who recorded what song in which year, etc. While women can record perfectly what was in a particular room without spending much time in it (details of coats or shirts on a chair, what was on the table, etc.). We men have a harder time picking up on details like that. So, I do believe that there could be some sort of gender difference when it comes to childrens' artwork -- it's all in a matter of being aware of it, like you were, Cushman, by noticing the artwork on the Sunday school classroom wall. I might have to try that next time i visit Ava's preschool.

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