a study of young artists: the development of talent and creativity

A group of young art students (ages 5 through 11) participated in this study of the early development of talent and creativity. These students, enrolled in the art school through recommendation by teachers or peers’ parents, had been meeting for at least one year in the mixed age and ability groups for one 90-min. class each week -- with novices working alongside experienced students. Their individualized educational intervention included training in the fine arts conventions employed in acrylic painting, with a focus on choices, actions, and assisting the young artists’ emerging understanding of art making.

This study of the young art students’ development uses the following tasks to assess students’ developing artistic talent and creativity: a task requiring each student to sort into groups an assortment of objects typically found in a home; a drawing from life using objects typically found in the art studio as models, a drawing created from their imagination. Adult artists assessed the drawings for technical skill in realistic representation, aesthetic properties and creativity. The findings provide a clear understanding of the relationships among technical skill, assessments of creativity, and assessments of drawings’ aesthetic properties. Within each drawing situation, for example, there are significant relationships among technical skill, the expression of a mood or emotion, the manipulation of the medium for aesthetic effects, the organization of objects in the drawings, and creativity. Students who had higher scores on the technical skill of their drawings also had higher scores on the creativity of their drawings. In the life-drawing task, students with higher assessments of expressed emotion or mood and creativity in their drawings tended to use fewer groups to sort random objects into groups. Students with higher assessments of expressed mood or emotion and creativity in their drawings from imagination used a larger proportion of abstract reasons for grouping the random objects. Thus, the study reveals some evidence of the developing relationship between measures of reasoning and the aesthetic properties of drawings and creativity.

The study finds further that the assessed creativity of life drawings created by this group of young, experienced art students is related to the total amount of time spent drawing, the amount of time spent exploring and choosing objects to include in a life drawing, and age. The assessed creativity of drawings from imagination is significantly related to the number of erasures made during the course of drawing, the proportion of abstract reasons used to group random objects, the total drawing time, and age. With the increasing technical skill associated with artistic training, the aesthetic success and creativity of children’s drawings can increase from the ages of 5 through 11.

From: Rostan, S.M. (1997). A study of young artists: The development of talent and creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 10, 175-192.

early indices of artistic talent and creativity

A study comparing the development of critically acclaimed artists with that of contemporary children examined the relationships among cultural experiences, formal training in the fine arts, the technical and aesthetic properties of children’s drawings, and realized giftedness. In this study, North American judges and Chinese American judges assessed a mix of childhood drawings (juvenilia) by critically acclaimed artists and the artworks (drawings both from imagination and from life) executed by contemporary children -- North American and Chinese North American art students and nonart students (ages 7, 9, 11, and 13). Judges from both cultures, blind to this mix, found the art students’ drawings to be more technically and aesthetically successful than the contemporary nonart students’ drawings. They also find the juvenilia more technically and aesthetically successful than the contemporary students’ drawings -- suggesting some early evidence of talent.

For the North American judges, assessments of creativity and of technical skill and aesthetic success differ among the groups. The childhood drawings of critically acclaimed artists (for example, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Winslow Homer, and Andrew Wyeth) were given the highest scores in technical skill, aesthetic success, and creativity. The art students, followed by the nonart students, received lower scores. However, with technical skill aside, the art students scored higher than the juvenilia and the nonart students. It is in this aspect of creativity that one may find a contemporary Western conception of creativity, which is of course absent during the childhood of future artists, deficient in the contemporary nonart students, but employed through training in visual arts conventions by young contemporary artists.

From: Rostan, S.M., Pariser, D., & Gruber, H.E. (2002). A cross-cultural study of the development of artistic talent, creativity, and giftedness. High Ability Studies, 13(2), 125-155.

artistic training and the development of young art students’ talent and creativity

This study focuses on behavior associated with young art students’ developing artistic talent (skills and art-making behavior) and creativity (personal expressions of visual information). The study examines the role of expertise in a student’s development of problem finding, technical skill, perseverance, evaluation, and creativity. The study compares 30 experienced art students’ artistic processing and drawings with those of 29 novice art students. Both groups are 7- through 11-year-olds. The art students were videotaped as they created drawings in two contexts - from imagination and from life - and three adult artists then assessed the technical skill and creativity revealed in the drawings. An analysis of the drawing behavior and the assessments of the drawings offer evidence of the changes related to the students’ developing expertise in both novice and experienced groups.

Higher scores on technical skill, more time spent drawing, more changes made during the drawing process, and higher scores on creativity in drawings from life distinguished the experienced students from the novices. More changes during the drawing process, more efficient use of time to find an artistic problem to solve, and higher scores on creativity in drawings from imagination also distinguished the more experienced art students from the novices.

From: Rostan, S.M. (2005). Educational intervention and the development of young art students’ talent and creativity. Journal of Creative Behavior, 39(4), 237-261.