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Free Art Learning With Kids, Introduction Book-I





Free Art Learning With Kids

Sonja & Esin Tanrisever





Free Art Learning With Kids

Introduction Book 1

Sonja & Esin Tanrisever

Published by Esin Tanrisever

Cover Design: Murat Yurttas

Edited by: Brian Cross and Kelli Ballard



Copyright 2016 by Esin Tanrisever. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed by a newspaper, magazine or journal.


Shakespir Edition, License Notes

This E-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This E-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipent. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Shakespir.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of these authors.





This book is dedicated to parents and persons who in some way have ties with kids and are interested in sharing fun.







Preface and Acknowledgement

Introduction (Our Mission With This Book)


Short Views Upon Childhood Through History Until Today

Our Concept Of The Child

Progressive Education

From Scribbles To Human Figures

How To Get Started: Convenient Environment Will Be Needed (“Safe Space”)

Who Will Be The Educators?

“I Made It Myself!”

Some Undesired Approaches

How Can We Best Support Our Children? (The Child Within)

What Can We Learn From Children?

Do We Want Our Kids To Become Future Artists Or…? What

Do We Want To Achieve

Dialogues Based Upon Faith, Understanding, and Care

Creativity and Awareness

Examples On A Few Experts’ Views Upon Creativity

What Lines, Colors and Shapes Tell… (Who Are The Children Around Us…)

Children’s Art, A Universal Language – Power of Collective Artworks

Journey Towards Children’s World of Imagination

“But The Sun Can not Have Daughters!”

A 3.5-Year-Old Guy and Space

“Of Course Pictures Can Be Happily Flying!”

Children’s Play and Their Art

Children’s Art and Adults’ Art

Each Child Has Their Own Lyrical Pictorial Language

Learning In Art With Young Children

Learning In Art With Older Children

Communication On A Face-To-Face Basis Is Not Only Verbal!

[+ 90% of Children’s Personalities Have Already Become Developed By The Age of 6! +]

Updating of Teaching: Holistic Education

As Long As There Are Human Beings


1.ENVIRONMENT (Necessity Of Artistic Environment)

Magic Of Materials As Our Friends

Creativity Can Only Develop In An Atmosphere Of Freedom

Some Simple Ways To Prepare Physical Artistical Environment During Early Ages

Some Clues Of Equipping An Art Environment Under Advantageous Conditions

Surface of Floor

Painting of Interior



a)Wall-I For Art Making (*Methods Of Drying Finished Artworks)

b)Wall-II For Exhibiting

c)Wall For Storage of Materials-III

d)Wall For Some Extra Necessities-IV


6.Closets or Shelf Systems

7.Tables and Chairs Table Easels


How To Introduce Environment and Materials To Children


A Materials List Of Basic Art Supplies To Start With

Shortly On Techniques

Last Word and The Coming Books








Children’s art, being one of the unique primeval languages symbolizing thought and feelings also reflects the deeply original and universal inner nature of children around us. These reflections, we believe, can be found in the direct and friendly manner in which children approach and handle materials.


During Creative Process

Nisan (Girl), Onur O. (Boy) Ages 5, Tanrisever Art Studio, Istanbul, 2006


Our adventure together with children and art started many years ago in Sweden when a young Sonja came to discover the power of ties between child, adult, and creative expressiveness. Since then, the journey of further fruitful explorations has been long and exciting. Numerous young ones have experienced the wonder and joy in the freedom of self-expression. Irrespective of personal backgrounds, at certain moments, there has always been the same bright and eager look in children’s eyes!

Together with my daughter Esin, we came to share this phenomenon many times later while working together in the field. It has been fascinating as well to find the same look of wonder in children’s expressions reflected in the eyes of adults joining our artistic workshops. Because, as parts of our projects, the adults had put into practice with children what they just had learned themselves.

The purpose of our coming book series can be viewed as an attempt to share, maybe particularly with parents, the subject of the spiritual nature of early childhood. Hopefully, such perfectly happy looks and smiles can become multiplied.

Sonja and Esin, Zonguldak Biennial


We have been fortunate in receiving generous support from different sources. To mention a few: Swedish General Consulate of Istanbul, Swedish Institute Stockholm and Istanbul, Birgitta Kurultay, Annika Svahnström, Sevil Ozmen, Suzi Ersahin, Gotlands Konstskola, Barbro Hedström, Folkuniversitetet Sweden, Borusan Culture and Art Initiative of the Borusan Kocabiyik Foundation, Teri Sisa, Binnaz Tukin, SKYGD (Association For Development Of Social And Cultural Life), UPSD (International Association Of Plastic Arts), History Foundation MAS Matbaa, Bulent Erkmen, Faruk Malhan, Yapı Kredi Culture and Arts Istanbul, Enka Schools Istanbul, Dr Clinton & Emily Vickers, European Cultural Association Istanbul, American College Harvard Istanbul, American Culture Association AKD Istanbul, psychologist Isik Selin Yazar TYSA (Therapy Life, Art Association) Istanbul, Prof. Dr. Ozcan Koknel, Prof. Olcay Tekin Kirisoglu, Prof. Engin Beksac, Clinical psychologist Stella Ovadia, Leyla Sakpinar, Serpil Unsal, Ismail Demircioglu, Bulent Ortacgil, Fatih Akgun, Ali Dursun Keskin, Ergun Korel, Zeynep Kiygi, Irem Cagla Yildirim, Firat Bingol, Ugur Acil, Ercan Vural, Bulent Selcuk, Murat Yurttas, our editors Brian Cross and Kelli Ballard, Berker Ertuna; Rengin, Memet (or “Memo”) and IrmakTanrisever.




Hello, my name is Sonja. I am a Swedish and Turkish artist and also, an art educator having been working with children for 57 years. Now I want to share these experiences with you. This book was written together with my daughter Esin, to whom I owe the realization of this book series. Esin has an artistic background working with art and writing, and has also contributed teaching art with kids for almost 20 years. Together, we continue developing innovative art pedagogical methods.

Our mission: with this book when children, through the magic power of art, get a chance to freely discover and explore their creative inner resources by means of self-expression, we believe in a broad sense, that making art has the potential of fostering growth of what is individual in each child (emotion, thought, and understanding). At the same time, the natural processes of psychic and physical maturing of the child will come to be integrated with the surrounding world so that there will be harmony and balance in their interrelation.

Our approach towards art learning with children is basically that of adult artists sharing experiences with little fellow artists.


Untitled, Volkan (Boy), Age 7, Art Child Project, France


*The brain reaches 90% of its adult size by the time a person is six years of age.[58] Casey B. J., Getz S., Galvan A. (2008). “The adolescent brain”.Developmental Review 28 (1): 62–77. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2007.08.003.PMC 2500212. PMID 18688292. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolescence


According to Wikipedia, during the initial six years of a child’s life, when development of as much as 90 percent of their personalities has been completed (!), art making – being one of the most influential medias of self-expression – can act as a truly integrating and healing source. Our personal view upon art learning with preschool kids represents a kind that is revealed in nature. We have chosen to refer to the subject as “Free Art Learning” and do fully agree with noted researcher Victor Lowenfeld:

“If we can stimulate the child’s unaware production to such an extent that it reaches in his unaware style a creative maturity which will be able to stand the critical awareness which once will set in, we have kept the child from making a sudden change and have protected him from disappointment or shock with regard to his changing imaginative activity.”

This introduction will be followed by a series of handbooks that will in the end form a library with guidelines upon how we as adults can aid and motivate children during such a vital period, and will describe how to easily use numerous materials and how to apply various different techniques to achieve satisfactory levels of self-expression. Within this book, you will find many points of view verifying why art teaching is essential for kids. Our aim is not to coax them to become practicing artists, but to enrich their lives through art and help them gain the inner strength they’ll need to discover and explore the world.

During the early years of a child, we believe there is no need of being a professional teacher. For the time being your love and care for the child you are close to is essential! Later on, when school begins at the age of 7 like, the situation will change. We will mention about that later on in this book.





P A R T – I

Short Views Upon Childhood Through History Until Today


Man, Sun, Cloud, Grass, Turtle, Apple Tree” Ali (Boy) Age 4, American Culture Association AKD, Istanbul www.amerikankoleji.net


Let’s consider that the vital importance of childhood in the development of human beings has only recently in history begun to be comprehended. Ancient Greek Philosopher Platon in his days advocated that art must be the basis of education, but since then no progress has evolved in the world for more than two thousand years.


Platon”, Illustration by Sonja Böhlander Tanrisever www.sonjatanrisever.com


Around the 1600s, French cardinal P. De Bérulle proclaimed childhood as “being the most awkward and miserable stage in mankind(!)”. Later on, Rousseau (French philosopher, writer and composer in the 18th century) put forward romantic theories about the innocence of childhood.

English Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s bright idiom “Child is father of the man” caught attention of the public. There was also Pestalozzi, (Swiss Educational Reformer) who made contributions in the field but still nothing really happened until the end of the 1800s when the significance and importance of childhood in man’s development gradually became the subject of intensive researches in many various fields of expertise.

In 1880 in the United States, a movement for “Progressive Education” was founded. German educational reformer Froebel founded a contemporary kind of kindergarten system. Since then, children and their developments have become subjects of scrutinized investigations. Thanks to lots of deeply engaged men and women researchers, who within the last century have spent lifelong dedicated efforts to shed light on the nature of mankind, we have been able to receive the data we have today. These persons of significance are so many in number that it would be unfair and almost impossible to attempt to list all of their names. However, a few of the noteworthy names include Ellen Key, Montessori Dewey, Lowenfeld, Steiner, Read, Kirisoglu, Cizek, Arnheim, Malaguzzi and Gardner.

During Creative Process”, Umut Education Village, Istanbul


Our Concept Of The Child

Untitled, Age 5, American Culture Association AKD, Istanbul www.amerikankoleji.net


“As always when writing, I sometimes come to realize that much of what is said could appear so obviously evident that it wouldn’t be worth mentioning! On the other hand, my daughter then reminds me of Strindberg’s well-known statement: “Simple is difficult”. So anyway, here we are!” Sonja

It was first during the 1800s that the attention of specialists became intensely focused upon different aspects of childhood. Yet, until as late the early 1920s, very little was known about children’s intellectual processes.

Most researchers had regarded the child as a “little adult” who perhaps knew less than an adult, but reasoned in essentially the same way. Around those times, French researcher Piaget presented his famous thesis as different cognitive stages in childhood concluding that children at different ages construe the world in ways that are fundamentally different from those of adults. Now we believe that teaching really starts with our concept of the child. Who is the child among us? Should we consider the child as a being who needs to be moulded by adults in the traditional authoritarian pedagogical model? Or should we consider the concept cognitive, which has long since been fundamentally established in the contemporary pedagogy world?

Then how does the child perceive the world? Can it be that a child in a way is a cognitive kind of stranger with their own view upon the world? Can it also be that for his/her brain to develop truly efficiently, it is far more dependant than one generally imagines on variety and richness in the flow of stimulus from the surrounding world? Can we agree that one should regard each child as an individual with their own life experience, knowledge, and desire to learn?

Magic of different rainbows often appear in children’s drawings. Irmak (Granddaughter/Nephew of Authors), Age 6, Tanrisever Art Studio, Istanbul


Progressive Education


As there are different stages in all kinds of development, this is also the case in children’s drawings. Whatever culture they are born into, and whichever part of the world they live, their developments will be more or less similar. Each age has certain phases of its own. Every other stage is built on the previous one, and in case there is something in the previous one missing, there may be something lacking in the next stage. As each individual is unique in kind, so languages of lines in drawings performed by different children are unique in their kinds as well. This is one of their fascinating qualities!

Drawings can also be regarded as instruments reflecting children’s developments in general. It is, of course, quite natural that time lines perhaps vary between different children. Children do not reach the same level of development at the same time. There is no need to worry as long as there are no real particular delays apparent.

As an example, some children can leave the scribbling period later than others, and this can be normal in their case. It may not be necessary for parents to start worrying very early while looking and comparing with other children’s drawings. If a problem is noticed, though, expert evaluation should certainly be taken, but in normal cases, children also have a chance to learn much from each other. When interpreting your little one’s artworks, please don’t forget that they copy each other.


X-Ray Pictures”


Sometimes children draw so called “x-ray pictures” where also the invisible sides of objects or beings can be seen. For instance, the rooms in a house when looked from outside can be seen. This may originate from children’s fertilities of invention. Through power of imagination, they seek to visualize unrestricted by optical boundaries.



Snowman, House and Turtle at Home”, Age 5, Little House Kindergarten

Istanbul, end of 1970ies


Pregnant horses in a hurry”, Esin, Author, Age 6, Little House Kindergarten, Istanbul, ends of 1970ies


Old persons sometimes return to their childhood while drawing.


In cases where people don’t find the opportunity to make drawings later in life, they will come to remain at the stage where they last worked. As an example, here are some touching, childish drawings made by an 83-year-old gentleman.


Elder Grandpa and Esin


Drawing made by an 83-year-old gentleman


Doggy”, drawing by 83-year-old


Periods of Repetition


Bringing Flowers To Mommy” (Girl), Age 6, Little House Kindergarten, Istanbul, ends of 1970ies


“During the period of children’s development in drawing, one sometimes can come upon situations where lots of repetitions take place. In this case, some parents get worried wondering if there is something wrong. However, when the child feels him/herself successful, he/she can draw the same over and over again just for the pleasure.

For instance, within the kindergarten age period, I produced in total some number like 2.5-3 thousand drawings and pictures, but during a very short period of a month or so, I had picturized almost exactly the same scene: a girl, standing in front of her house over and over 56 times. There surely were some different nuances in each painting. Once the house was by the seashore; once there was a river, instead. Sometimes it was night and sometimes morning. Sometimes it was raining, sometimes it was snowing or one could see the sun shining. One day the sun was happy and one day it was not, etc.” Esin


From Scribbles To Human Figures


“From Scribble to Human Figures”, Age 3, Istanbul


For drawings in charts of this book, we owe thanks to children of AKD WIAS The charts of drawings presented in this chapter are intended to show how some children at different ages happen to represent their own views upon human figures. We may call this a kind of “Natural Selection” because these are boys and girls that have quite varying fields of interest. (Someone of them might have become experts on drawing cars, rockets or gardens…) Here our aim is to exhibit the individuality and sincereness of images while knowing that each of these drawn figures is very dear and meaningful to the individual who made them this way.

Feeling completely engaged about what they create, children’s sketched figures will change and mature with time. Around the stages of descriptive and visual realism “seven until ten years of age (Cyril Burt)” they will all come to draw in figurative manners. For the time being, it’s up to us adults to respect their scribbled figures just as they are, sincere and friendly, and absolutely not attempt to interfere or try to correct them.


Two – Three Years Of Age AKD, www.amerikankoleji.net.com


Have you ever had the opportunity to watch a 1.5 year old child discover the possibilities of having fun with a pencil in his/her hand? At first, the pencil may just be banged on the table, messed around with a little bit or so. “Let’s see, maybe this thing makes some sound!”

Sometime later, the child may discover that something has come out from the tip of the pen! A trace! Something managed all by him/herself! After this exciting discovery of relations between pencil and paper, the first stage of the period of scribbles starts and production will speedily advance with much delight.

Literally just about anywhere, possible and impossible places and surroundings may now attract the child as suitable backgrounds for further adventurous scribbling enterprises. At first, these scribbles will be undifferentiated as random motoric exercises without resemblance to reality. During the first sporadical line games, up until about two years of age, the children are unaware of the connection between movements of hand and lines upon paper and usually do not attempt to try and control lines.

In time, scribbles will turn into symbols. Even if the scribbles at first look like purposeless signs, actually, among them lots of variations can be discovered. A noteworthy researcher, psychologist, and a nursery school educator Rhoda Kellogg, from 1948 to 1966, collected approximately one million drawings of young children of ages two to eight. Some 8000 are available in microfiche form. She at last stated, “The Kellogg Classification System” of 20 different kinds of basic scribbles which can be observed at two years of age.

From the scribble period onwards, each child forms an individual kind of expressive atmosphere. Someone has discovered that by making lines with different pressures on the pencil, rhythmical nuances like that of a kind of nerve will appear. Someone else may be energetically throwing joyful and vibrating markings in a swift and determined manner. There are also children drawing as if moving ahead in darkness with distrustful, searching steps. Their markings are almost invisible, soundless, slender and in a sense indistinct like traces from birds in sand. Whatever kind of expression, at this stage what surprises the careful observer is the easiness and emotion with which children master the surfaces.

Almost in every “finished picture”, there is a kind of aesthetic and balance. A kind of rhythm and harmony which only utmost liberated adult artists can be imagined to achieve after considerable, concentrated labours. Fragments of scribbles which sometimes get incorporated with figurative development do sometimes function as active graphical components. One should be aware of not imposing expectations about children’s namings of dots and shapes. What is of importance here is that behind shapes, emotions can get a free outlet to flow; emotions which do not have names.


Three – Four Years Of Age AKD www.amerikankoleji.net


Between two and four years of age, during the scribble period, a new graphic phase begins. Out of unplanned scribbles, the first really distinctive forms start to grow since children by now have obtained muscle control. Elaborate, simple abstract figurations come into being out of chaotic looking scribbled patterns. It goes on this way until there comes a day when a picture does resemble something! Children’s first figurative picture mostly consists of a circle with some kind of spots inside. On paper, the child makes a face which gets named, like for instance, Mommy or Daddy…

Isn’t there something magical about this moment which during the history of mankind we have all gone through?


Once becoming aware that lines and dots can symbolize outer events and things, aims do change and children have reached a turning point. Each line can get loaded with meaning since, from now on, everything can become expressed with just one single line or dot!


On children’s drawings from now on, first human figures, as if newborn, start rising out of scribbles.


From Scribbles To Figure”


From around the age of 3, the child starts to tie together separate scribbles and resembles these ones to beings or things. The period between 3 and 7 years has sometimes been named the “schematic stage” (Lowenfeld). Around four years of age, human figure drawings sometimes have got a body. Another round shape, under the head, often smaller in size and with legs attached to it. Arms continue to extend out of the head for quite a long time until children themselves discover real connections.




Cem” (Boy) Age 5.5, Little House Kindergarten, 1970ies, Istanbul


Five Years Of Age

AKD www.amerikankoleji.net


Cyril Burt has defined the period of five to seven years as the first descriptive symbolism stage. The children may insist that often repeated symbol scribbles do resemble something. Each picture consists of a few simple fast lines. Pictures may also, from now on, contain live stories made up by children. As motoric developments proceed, children’s pictures become more and more composite. This reflects their broadened perceptions and widened awareness about the world.

Since children by now search for picturizing new concepts, there will be variations in their symbols. For instance, the shape of a circle ¬ which is universally drawn by all children ¬ can, with small variations, function as a base for, let’s say, man, flower, lamp, sun or animal and so on. Thanks to these acts providing outlets for instincts, thoughts and emotions, children have now obtained access to a means of communication in which different phases of development in general, become reflected within their languages of lines.

There is not yet spacial comprehension in drawings. Figures become positioned in various directions like lying down, being upside down as if hiding, etc. Sizes of shapes also vary in accordance with their degrees of importance to the children themselves. Children have by now established certain symbolic markings, which are expressions of experiences and knowledge obtained through relations to environments. First symbols are human beings!


Six Years Of Age

AKD http://akdkidserifali.com/


At about five until six years of age, the schematic period begins (Lowenfeld). Many subjects feeling realistic for the children have become more and more lively and well developed as symbols. This gets represented in schemas by the children. These schemas can consist of humans, houses, animals, clouds, vehicles and so forth.

Many children also start to mark the ground of earth as a line on the bottom edge and sky as a line on the upper edge of the paper. Since everything is placed on the baseline, there is now a certain order in space relationships. Three-dimensional apprehensions, though, have not yet become developed and shapes become kind of placed in lines upon a vertical surface. This creates an effect resembling a theater curtain and sizes of shapes tend to variate according to their emotional degree of value. A phenomenon we recognize from primitive art.


Seven Years Of Age AKD http://akdkidserifali.com/


Around this time, about seven till eight years of age, what Cyril Burt refers to as descriptive realism begins. Now almost all children draw a line at the bottom of the paper. They sometimes use geometrical lines and are apparently self-confident after having passed through considerable labors of repetitional stages. From this stage on, the children start to wish their pictures would resemble reality more. Their comprehension of the world has become multifaceted decomposed and when they desire to get their views reflected in their picture making, they find this so hard that they even may tend to give up.


Eight Years Of Age, AKD http://akdkidserifali.com/


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Free Art Learning With Kids, Introduction Book-I

As the authors of Free Art Learning With Kids, our motto is: Children’s Creativity Should Definitely Not Get Restricted! “A child has a hundred languages but gets deprieved of 99!” Famous Italian Educator and Poet Loris Malaguzzi Sonja & Esin: “Children’s art is one of the unique primeval languages symbolizing thoughts and feelings and hereby reflecting the deeply original and universal inner nature of the children aound us. These reflections, we believe, can be found within the direct and friendly manner in which children approach and handle materials. And also as embedded in the child’s concrete visualizations of linear language into 3-dimensional forms is yet another one of these hundred languages. In these there is something that has to do with origin, birth and budding life; a joy of living and vitality; the same kind of power that makes plants and animals grow and develop. Man’s search and research through cycles of civilizations will, hopefully, aid us through whatever future challenges we meet in our World.” These are some of the many messages in Free Art Learning With Kids, which is a fresh and inspiring book on art pedagogy for preschool aged children, written by two Swedish - Turkish artists and art educators. Sonja has spent 57 years of her life together with children and art and Esin has similar experiences since about 20 years. Now they want to share their stand points and colorful experiences with the World. “Our mission with this book: When children through the magic power of art get chances to freely discover and explore their creative inner resources by means of self-expression, we believe in a broad sense, that art making has the potential of fostering growth of what is individual in each child (emotion, thought, and understanding). At the same time, the natural processes of psychic and physical maturing of the child will come to be integrated with the surrounding world so that there will be harmony and balance in their interrelation. Let’s consider the scientifically proven fact that as much as 90% of children’s personalities get completed at the age of 6! Very much can and, according to Sonja’s and Esin’s understanding, should be done in order to support processes of developing self confidence and individual growth in children while their brains are most receptive. This introduction book wil be followed by a series of instruction books that will, in the end, form a library containing guidelines on how to easily use numerous materials and how to apply various different techniques to achieve satisfactory levels of self expression. Though it would be wonderful if one could have chance to get support from professionals, during early years of childhood, Sonja and Esin believe that it is not necessary for us to be professional art teachers. Adults’ love and and care for children they are close to is essential! Readers will find this Free Art Learning “library basics” full of fun and designed in an easily comprehensible interactive kind of communication.

  • Author: Sonja&Esin Tanrisever
  • Published: 2016-07-23 21:05:11
  • Words: 23495
Free Art Learning With Kids, Introduction Book-I Free Art Learning With Kids, Introduction Book-I