From the child's first pencillings we can learn much of the inner workings of his mind. The young child has ideas, but not sufficient words to express them, and his early pencil-lings resemble the hieroglyphics and drawings of savages and uncultured people who cannot express themselves by means of writing.
The young artist needs encouragement, and his earnest efforts should be rewarded by praise unmixed with flattery. By criticising his work and offering suggestions, it is possible to lead a child to attain a fair amount of artistic skill without formal lessons, but generally it will be found that as a child finds other means of expressing his ideas he neglects the pencil as a means of sell-expression. Hence arises the need of more formal teaching.
Free-arm drawing makes an excellent first step. For this purpose a blackboard, or sheet of brown paper, or piece of plain linoleum, should be fixed at a convenient height on the nursery wall, and the young artist should make his first strokes with white chalk on the dark surface. When he can control and guide the chalk, familiar objects of simple form should be depicted. The first exercise might be a tracing around his hand with extended fingers, or any flat object, such as a paper-knife, saucer, or box, lid. But outline conveys little to the young child, and he should chalk in the outline so as to produce a mass drawing.
Next the object must be copied, and not traced. Some simple forms, such as an apple or pear might be chosen. The best method of teaching the child to appreciate form is to suspend the object with a strong light behind it, so that it shall cast a deep shadow on a light surface. It is the form of the shadow that must be reproduced, and the child can copy from the model itself to get the colouring, which should be filled in with coloured chalk. After several such exercises the shadow casting can be omitted, and the child will then be able to make recognisable copies of any simple object.
The Japanese have an excellent method of teaching drawing. An object is placed in front of the class, and when it has been studied well is taken away, and the pupils draw it from memory. A modification of the plan is to require the pupils to draw a picture of a well-known object which is not at hand, and which may not have been seen for some time past. For nursery use both plans are excellent, and lead up to imaginative drawing, whereby the child uses his pencil to illustrate the poems he learns and the stories to which he listens.
The innate love of children for bright colours has led to the introduction of drawing with a brush instead of with chalk or pencil. By using the point of a brush, lines of varying thickness can be drawn, while by placing the hair of the brush flat against the paper what are known as "blobs" can be produced. The form of the blobs varies with the angle at which the brush is held and with the amount of pressure applied. The paint dries in such a way that the blob presents a beautiful gradation of shading. The blobs can be arranged to reproduce the forms of beauty which the child knows from his acquaintance with the gifts. Petals of flowers and many natural objects can be represented in this way, so that brush work and Nature study are of mutual assistance.
Art colourmen supply books which show how brush work is carried out, but such books are suggestive to the teacher, and should never be put in the hands of the child, who must be encouraged to make his copies direct from Nature. In making lines, the brush should be held vertically in the right hand, with the wrist supported by that of the left so as to gain freedom and steadiness. Only the little finger of the right hand should be allowed to touch the paper, and the movements of the arm should be from the shoulder rather than the elbow.
The colours must be kept pure. Different brushes should be reserved for different colours, but if that cannot be arranged a different glass of water should be used for washing the brush after each colour used. When once the blobs are made they should not be touched until they are quite dry, and then veins of leaves and other markings can be worked in with the point of the brush
Babies a Fruitful Source of Superstitious Observances - Charms Against Changelings - The
The early dwellers in our islands lived very close to the supernatural world. For very many things, now easily accounted for by science, they could find no explanation, and they could only conclude that other than human agencies were at work.
It was not only primitive man and woman, skin-clad, living in twig and turf huts, but later generations of our islanders, people of the Tudor and Stuart periods, who believed implicitly in every kind of magic.
"Better Born Lucky than Rich"
It was to mediaeval times, however, with their deep-rooted belief in the supernatural, that most of our present-day superstitions date, though many can be traced back to a time before Christianity.
No one, not even the bride, has become more surrounded with spells and charms and beliefs than the baby. Mothers have always been ready to do anything to protect their precious little ones, and ignorant mothers of early times were ready to listen to every soothsayer, "wise woman," and magician for remedies against evil and suggestions for good. This fact accounts not only for the many flourishing superstitions associated with babies, but also for the credulity with which even up-to-date mothers accept the most fantastic beliefs. The observance of certain rites may not make the baby lucky; but, on the other hand, it is argued, who can say that they will have no effect? "Better born lucky than rich" is a saying remembered by mothers.