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Child Development Research
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 925063, 7 pages
Research Article

The Development of Expressive Drawing Abilities during Childhood and into Adolescence

1Department of Psychology, Octogone—ECCD, University of Toulouse II, 5 allées Antonio Machado, 31058 Toulouse, France
2Institut Universitaire de France, 75005 Paris, France
3Department of Psychology, University of Nîmes, Site Vauban, Rue du Dr Salan, 30021 Nîmes, France

Received 6 December 2011; Revised 9 March 2012; Accepted 10 March 2012

Academic Editor: Masha Gartstein

Copyright © 2012 Delphine Picard and Christophe Gauthier. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The way children portray emotions in their drawings of human and nonhuman topics is assumed to reflect their artistic, emotional, and cognitive development. This study was designed to investigate the development of expressive drawings during childhood and into adolescence, using a large age range (5–15 years) and sample size ( ), so as to provide a precise and comprehensive view of age-related changes in children’s ability to produce expressive drawings. More specifically, we focused on children’s developing ability to use the techniques of literal and metaphorical expression, either alone or in combination. We also examined the effects of sex, topics (house, tree, or person), and the depicted emotion (happiness or sadness) on the use of each expressive technique. The main findings were that there is a developmental shift between childhood (5–10 years) and adolescence (11–15 years) in the use of expressive techniques, from simple (literal) to more complex forms of expression (metaphorical).