Ever since my son was able to hold a pencil in his hand, I’ve been fascinated by how he teaches himself to draw. He develops his skills every day in the flow and with a lot of fun. I quickly realized that as a professional visualizer, I can learn a lot from his drawings. (more at the bikablo meetup on May 4!)

Jonas is 6 years old and, like all children at his age that I know, is an enthusiastic visualizer. Drawing obviously has the same function for him as playing with Lego or Playmobil: He uses the pencil to immerse himself in the fantasy worlds of his stories. Like his room, they are populated by knights, droids, dragons and samurais. In order to come up with picture stories, he needs a wide variety of figures and picture elements, just like adult visualizers: What distinguishes a ninja from a samurai? How can you depict a castle in whose dungeon a dragon is being held captive? Since everything always has to be done quickly in drawing, everything should be simple, concise and variable. From this „economy of means“ he develops amazing skills, similar to those we teach in our bikablo visualization trainings:

The top 10 intuitive visualization strategies I learned from my son

  1. Iconic and symbolic: Jonas draws what he is passionate about at the moment: These are mostly fantastic stories, sometimes real events („What did I experience today?“) and sometimes a mixture of both („Last night I visited a stone giant and my deceased grandma in heaven.“)
  2. Visuals and storytelling: he always tells stories with his paintings, often commenting on them aloud (to me or to himself) in parallel with how they are drawn.
  3. Visualization as a process …: When he begins, he knows his subject; he develops the plot and its outcome in the doing.
  4. … and for the dialogue: He draws to explain what he has drawn and does not care if others recognize things without his help.
  5. Step-by-step approach: Action, interaction, and relationships emerge successively in Jonah’s paintings: he first draws a knight, then the tower he is standing on, then he draws a cannon on top of it and a second tower that it shoots at, whereupon a fire flares up, which in turn is extinguished, and so on.
  6. Drawing contours instead of painting: The pencil is thin and therefore there for the contours. Usually one color is enough. This is simple and fast. Surfaces are only needed if an object absolutely must have a certain color.
  7. Systematic visual vocabulary: Jonas develops a systematic for things and figures (knight: helmet, shield, sword), always draws the same thing and varies the figures only slightly, for example, to represent different knights.
  8. Spatiality: Perspective is difficult and actually superfluous. The bottom of the picture is in front, the top is behind, and things that are actually behind each other can just as well be drawn next to each other.
  9. Use of image space: Not everything has to be drawn in full. White space is space in between: a field, the sea, the sky. Often white space calls out to be filled with a surprisingly emerging protagonist, or it simply remains empty.
  10. Letting go and appreciation: sometimes he doesn’t like the picture afterwards, then he tears it up and starts a new draft. Sometimes he wants to give it to me or someone else.

This topic is so exciting that we have dedicated a bikablo meetup to it.
Be there and bring your son, granddaughter, nephew or goddaughter and their works!

„Learning Visualization from Children’s Drawings“
(in English)

bikablo meetup on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 5pm CEST (GMT+2)

register here