Children and Digital Art

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  04 April 2005
I wonder if it could possible have anything to do with video games and the popularity of such with even very young kids. It's funny to watch an adult who's new to video games lean into things or turn their body as they turn in the game, but kids always seem to it right off the bat. They may pick up a wacom faster because they are used to doing things in their hands and seeing them on the screen. Not to say that they aren't adept at it without video games, I'm sure ability to pick up both skills so quickly come from the same place. But they may also play off each other so the child improves at both. Just some ideas.
Chris White
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by jebas: Maybe a better way of stating the difference is that adults understand the concept of a todo list. It's not so much the passage of time that adults understand better, but the concept that if I spend my time doing this, I will not have the time to something else. Therefore adults will generally prioritize their learning to things that they wish to achieve.

The reason for my long diatribe was to explain to Enyala why I thought that children seemed to be more willing to learn than adults. I did not state that children could learn more than adults. In fact I had ended my argument with the statement that I believed that everyone continues to learn. I was just trying to state that adults are more selective about what they want to learn, and how much time they are willing to put into it.

May seem nice at first glance, but it seems that adults wanting to learn and having the time still pick up things way more slowly. And the thing about children not having any forethought on anything is simply insulting. I was solving puzzles and learning things actively at a very young age. They call it exploring, you know staring around untill you've had "enough" of it. You're oversimplifying my comments, now I'll just have to be blatently obvious. You're implying that adults get frustrated about using new software by choice. That just seems silly to me. You clearly say that adults mean to spend their time differently but the issue was that kids simply pick it up while adults keep busting their heads on the walls, get my point. Their attitudes have changed and most are affected by it to such an extent that they don't learn as fast.
modelling practice #1
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by jmBoekestein: They call it exploring, ...

Perhaps that is another avenue to go down. Children explore, yes, but do they actively ask questions about what they find and place them into an organised system?

Perhaps children learn more easily because they don't become confused as easily. In my own experience, confusion doesn't result from a lack of understanding but from an incomplete picture of the whole. As I learn something, rather than just taking it for granted and getting on with it, I am constantly thinking about connections to other things and how it might apply in different contexts. Because development is a continuum and not a sudden change, it would be silly to say that children don't also do this, but I don't think they do it to the same extent; in fact they can't do simply because they don't have the range of experience and accumulated knowledge of adults. That is why we don't have children doing scientific research.

As far as learning goes, becoming comfortable with a Wacom and figuring out a few simple moves in PS is really quite trivial. I'm sure that a dedicated adult, although they might start out slower, would learn the whole of PS faster than most children and understand complexities that many children wouldn't be able to grasp for some time.
  05 May 2005
Originally Posted by jmBoekestein: This is silly, it simply doesn't take ages to learn how to use a wacom just like it doesn't take ages to try out a computer game. I was going to elaborate awy more but it's basically this.

Kids need and want to learn, their attitude is often more of amazement and glee. Adults have seen it all, and will take any opportunity to boast their experience. Even if it's utterly cynical. It's not the clotting of the brain or time. It's their attitude, they still absorb knowledge and still take time to do their hobbies etc., I admit there is a truth to being reprogrammed by society, parents and what not. But that is not the actual problem because you can re-enter a different mindset and learn ten times as fast. I'm 100% certain of it.

You are a frustrating man, Monsieur Boekestein. Hopefully you realize that when you say that you are 100% certain of yourself that open discussion becomes impossible. You're certainly entitled to your own opinion but what makes you think that others will openly consider your point of view when you refuse to do the same? I'm not trying to start a flame war, but I think that the human brain is complex enough that factors besides "attitude" are involved in the learning process. Since even scientists who study the brain disagree about how the brain processes and stores information, it makes for good hypothetical, open ended discussion.
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  05 May 2005
I agree with the bear

I think there may lie some truth in each view of this subject.
Most complement mine very well I think, since it's so complex you can't be certain one view is the absolute truth. And of course it's not possible to look in people's mind, in your own perhaps, but not in others.
  05 May 2005
Some people have gone on about the fact that adults having a positive attitude towards learning can increase their capacity to learn. This is quite true. However, as IotaH pointed out, our ability to learn is greatly affected by age. Our capacity to learn and the speed with which we learn is greatest when we're very young and decreases as we age. Children are simply physically/mentally able to learn more easily than adults. Adults with the right mindset can open themselves up to learning like a child, but they dont have the same inbuilt abilities as a child naturally does and they have to actually try to learn, where as a child does it without thinking.
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  05 May 2005
Well I'm convinced that science won't catch up with the brain for some considerable time. There's no point in asking "those" scientists, if they're just studying subjects strapped in a chair watching slideshows, it's not real. Instead you have to go to real world situations and deduce. The stupid ogre cliche springs to mind among others on this. But that's that, I am quite certain of it.You can start a flame war if you like, I feel quite ready to defend my point of view. Even philosophers of great days gone have stated that the real purpose to every argument (in actuality) is for the argumenter to come out on top, as the winner. So I might have let slip some openmindedness after that, because of all the air castles being constructed. I am actually always out to learn new things, if you can prove me wrong do so, or don't if it amuses you. Why would I deny a perfectly sound theory, just because someone doesn't understand?

As for complexities, there would be several reasons for it, the children could easily find more pressing matters to learn. If they aren't shown the possibilities of the software they won't know where to go, same as with never having seen a masterpiece. Language would be a big barrier too. But I think the fact that some childprodigies have gotten into college at ages of 8 or a little older is proof enough that it isn't the developmental stage of the brain inhibiting us.
Then it must be in the fact that all these varying reasons must be approached in the right way in order to learn the fastest. That's what I'd call the right attitude.
modelling practice #1
  05 May 2005
I would like to add on a less insolant but equally arrogant tone that I've found my POV underlined in other ways than reason.
Allow me, The bible says to approach the world with the mind and eyes of a child, the bible strives for you to learn things about life regardless all the mysteries around it is a book intended for you to learn to live better. imo it points out how to best deal with things and make the best of life ie. learn to live.
modelling practice #1
  05 May 2005
The way I understand it, its all about free memory (to put it crudely and geekily). Now bear with me, 'cos I'm no neurosurgeon; The human brain is in flux during childhood years, and becoming more and more 'hardwired' as you age - though never completely set in stone (how's that for mixing metaphors, whoo..), even in old age. A child can pick up new things faster because neural pathways are still being solidified, whereas an adult, particularly those past their middle years have to struggle, because they're basically rewiring previous paths.

As an example, my father's an architect, who made the move to CAD a few years ago. Now let me tell you...that was painful for me. I had to learn the software, and teach it back to him, over and over again. He'd forget a concept I told him the day before...and the next day, and the day after that....but eventually he got it. It wasn't cynicism that he knew a better way, and he truly was eager to learn because he recognised that ultimately it would be a more efficient way to work. And it is, now; I haven't had to teach him anything in months.
  05 May 2005
I tend to agree with Ordibble and Tryn that part of the problem is brain usage. I originally described the problem as internal knowledge lists, but another way to describe it is to unlearn something. As we get older, we've learned how so many things work that we start making comparisons to what we know to what we don't understand. When the comparison is useful, we make a discovery and something is learned quickly. When the comparisons are not useful, we run into a problem.

If it is truly unique, we have no reference, and we are much like the children we once were. However, if it is very similar to something that we already know, we run into a problem. Out of habits developed earlier we keep repeating the failing procedures because they use to work for us. A personal example of this is that I keep forgetting to use layers as I create digital paintings. All of my previous works used pencils, pens, oils, or colored pencils. Therefore I learned to everything in a single layer. I find myself stopping in the middle to of the painting process to break the image into various layers just because it is the way that I have always done it before, but it is now wrong.

jmBoekestein: You and I approach these forums very differently. The only thing that I am ever certain of is that I don't know very much. I don't enter these forums to convince everyone else that I am right. I enter them because I hope that I might learn something new, or get a new perspective on something I already knew. When I contribute, it is because I think I have something to add to the conversation. To me these forums are places of conversations, not arguments. Please keep that in mind the next time you address me.
  05 May 2005
Originally Posted by Sylanya: Hmmm...well, while this is incredibly true, I think it also has something to do with how ready one is to learn the tool. When I first got my tablet, I had absolutely no experience with Photoshop or digital anything. I doodled around a little, but nothing really good came out of it (interestingly, I never had the problem of looking at the tablet instead of the screen when drawing...). But that was because I didn't know Photoshop. So I searched around on the internet for a tutorials. Found a few really bad ones, but I colored my first picture digitally with it. Then I found some better ones, and learned some more. When I finally learned about layers I was hooked on it (I'd say that was about nine months after I got my tablet, but it took about 6 months before I colored my first drawing digitally).

Then one day, while browsing around DeviantArt, I discovered digital painting. So I decided to give it a try. I did draw my linework first, and just deleted the lines after I was done, but it still came out alright:

After that I got even braver and painted without linework, just from scratch. This was after I'd done only three digital paintings ever. I was painting two pictures simultaniously, one with a references and one without. And they both came out pretty good, especially the one with the reference (it was for my grandmother's 90th birthday). And I've been painting ever since. I think I've only been painting for half a year or so.

Anyways, my point is I think it also has to do with enthusiam and willingness to learn, not just age.

agrees completely...its really about willingness are willing to try many new things and explore constantly alot of adults unfortunetely lose this drive once caught up in the everyday routine that is called life...myself being 32 yrs old I find alot of times my life is routine...but myself I love to learn new things I have had my computer for about 6 yrs now originally it was bought for my daughter to learn on....then my hubby brought home some online based games...from there I started to explore this new world and found digital art ...and fell in love this was about 1 yr ago...since then I have been diligetently teaching myself photoshop and trying to learn to draw ...which BTW is completely new to me as I never took art in school...I dont have a tablet yet but hopefully soon as I hate drawing with a mouse and have resorted to scanning pencil drawings now ...I have yet to try and do a drawing in photoshop but I have drawn on oekaki boards....I think you are never too old to learn as long as you are willing.....

my 1st ever oekaki drawing LOL I guess you could say 1st ever any as I was never an art student ...dont laugh LOL..only Im allowed to do that was suppose to be a replicat of a piece I saw somewheres ...if you know the original author lol Im sorry for the butchering

  05 May 2005
Originally Posted by jebas: jmBoekestein: You and I approach these forums very differently. The only thing that I am ever certain of is that I don't know very much. I don't enter these forums to convince everyone else that I am right. I enter them because I hope that I might learn something new, or get a new perspective on something I already knew. When I contribute, it is because I think I have something to add to the conversation. To me these forums are places of conversations, not arguments. Please keep that in mind the next time you address me.

Well dear sir,
I am having a conversation with you and am quite clearly argumenting my case here. My tone might come across somewhat insulting to you. For that I am sorry if true.
Otherwise I say that I stand with my arguments however you see it. And the fact that I used the word insolent in my post doesn't at all give you any permissions to judge me here. Whatever you do here has consequences, and I accept whatever is coming to me.

I have the profound idea that the poster behind you has a similar view to mine on the subject. Willingness, attitude. the way it's put in that post is quite similar to what I'm saying. And for the sake of discussion and actually learning anything I'll keep on discussing the subject and argumenting with the things I see are true, and valid arguments by others ofcourse are always welcome.
I find your and Ordipples comments superficial and topical at best. Calling children mindless morons and simplifying the machine into it's parts. I would appreciate a more insightful approach into these matters which are rather complex and have never been explained by biochemistry or biomechanics. For instance: I clearly recall putting finer questions on things by the age of three, and I was methodically exploring my environment for answers by the age of five. Are you implying that I'm a liar? If so I'd like you to consider your tone of voice as well. Get my drift?
And I'm not saying shhut up and listen. I am just profoundly disagreeing with you, but I do however invite you to argument your thoughts on these matters. ie if you could explain your view more clearly I would be very grateful. For instance, how is it that the memories present in a brain can inhibit it from functioning nominally, is it because they are processed wrongly. This would only be the case in psychological context wouldn't it? The either a change of feeling/approach/attitude would be preferred, or serious therapy .

But if you're calling me a know-it-all, I'd dare say look to your own post for an answer:

Originally Posted by jebas: When I contribute, it is because I think I have something to add to the conversation. To me these forums are places of conversations, not arguments.

You might contribute, but if you don't argument your view (enough or clearly or at all) there is no point to listen to. If I don't know, then you'll have to show me right. So, if the source of the problem is in memory routines of the brain and not psychological in nature please explain.
modelling practice #1
  05 May 2005
Originally Posted by jmBoekestein: I find your and Ordipples comments superficial and topical at best. Calling children mindless morons and simplifying the machine into it's parts. I would appreciate a more insightful approach into these matters which are rather complex and have never been explained by biochemistry or biomechanics.

Come now, this whole thread is a bunch of generalisations and truisms based on an assumption and backed up by anecdotal evidence.

As for the rest, to me it seems you have assumed that the ideas I have put forth are an attempt at a unified theory of why children appear to learn more easily than adults. They aren't and are instead suggestions at other possible ingredients in the recipe. I have understood and never denied what others have said regarding possible social and psychological factors involved. I think it is a given that the overall reason has to do with attitude, but that is not very useful without considering not just what causes attitude to change with age but also how and why those causes affect attitude.

What I don't like though, is that you appear to have distorted my view and put words in my mouth.

I have never proposed a physiological reason in this thread but rather an epistemological one. In essence, that an average adult's framework of knowledge is broader and more complex than an average child's and when they meet something new they bring it to bear with more force than children. I also never said that children were mindless morons. I didn't even say that children aren't capable of analytical thought; what I did say is that I don't think the average child has the same power of analytical thought as the average adult. I am not so attached to this idea, however, that I wouldn't change it if someone provided a convincing argument that it isn't the case, but on the other hand I really don't see why it should be considered offensive.

Of course you have every right to forcibly argue your case if you choose to do so, but I personally consider it unethical to misrepresent or exagerate another person's words. Doing so might add more force to an argument but it does not make it any more valid.

So I am having a bad day and gave my ego a little outing - but at least I think I kept it on the leash.
  05 May 2005

You're right. I did take offense, and perhaps I should not have. I have gone through and reread all the posts in this thread including my own, and you are also right in that some of my argument is not clear. I apologize for my lack of decorum. Next time I feel insulted, I'll hold my reply 24 hours, and then reread the post again before I reply.

Now starting fresh, hopefully can clarify my argument. As I stated before, I believe that there are two factors that make children seem to learn more quickly than adults. The first part was biological (adults have to unlearn), and the second psychological (Do I have time for this?).

Because I two very young daughters, and one of those daughters has been diagnosed with aspbergers, I have been reading a lot of material on brain development. From that reading, I've picked up some interesting trivia about the brain. For example, between birth and five years of age, the brain will double in size. Also a volunteer group allowed themselves to be cat scanned at different stages of their lives. The results showed that radical changes occurred in the brain even through the teenage years; however these changes began to slow down about the same time that puberty starts. It also showed that these changes went from being radical to subtle by the age of twenty five. This is about the time that the long bones finally seal at the end, and most people have gained their full height.

A theory from the results of this experiment was that the brain is developing structures for handling tasks, and those structures are fully developed around the age of twenty five. A newborns first task is to learn how to make his body work. How do I open and close my eyes? Can I get them pointing in the same direction? What was that thing with the five other things sticking out of it? How do I make the Mommy person come get me? And for a newborn, that is more than enough to do.

Now I am not stating that children are a blank slates here. Even before birth, children start showing signs of preferences. My youngest daughter would bounce like a jumping bean if I sang into my wife's belly, but she would get really quiet if my wife sang. If anyone else sang, they would get one of these two reactions, but not to the extreme. Therefore she had learned to recognize Amanda's and my voices, and had a chosen reaction for each one. She's almost one and a half now, and she still dances to my voice, and cuddles to Amanda's.

Now as the baby grows, the baby goes from trying to get all of the individual parts to move, to how do they all move, to how to I move two or more at the same time, to finally creating some basic coordination. At the same time, the brain is increasing in size, and all of these new brain cells are being put to these new tasks. One of the first coordinated tasks a child does is reach out and grab something. This involves getting both eyes to focus on an object, the brain to estimate the position and depth, to move the hand to the general location of the object, and finally to wrap the fingers around the object. This learned task is helped by the fact that new neurons are being made available.

By the time we are twenty five, most of the neurons are being used in some existing structure. Changes are still occurring, but it requires altering an existing set to form a new pattern. The example I gave of this was learning to use layers in the digital media. When I learned to draw, it was with pencil and paper. I have almost 40 years of drawing experience with pencil and paper. I always start with a light scribble, and slowly darken the lines that look right. If I get halfway into a drawing, and determine that the composition is better if I move the characters together, my choices are start over, erase part of the drawing, or alter the background to make them appear they are closer. That's the way I have been doing this for last forty years, and it has always worked. But it is not the only way if you are using a digital media. I still have to stop myself and think through the process of layers and how I want to use them. I have to remind myself there are differences in the way that things work, and that they are available to me. It is not that I am incapable of learning something new; it's that I have to quit thinking of my stylus as a pencil. All of the structures that my brain has setup to cover the nearly forty years of drawing experience have to be altered to include the new information about using a stylus. A lot of that restructuring is figuring out how the old experience works with the new medium.

The second half of my argument was that people make a conscious choice on whether they wish to spend the time learning something. When we are children, and we have all of those new structures being built, there is very little cost to learning something new. We have all of this new storage space for information, our deadlines are minor, and our concerns are child like. As adults however, all of that has changed. Learning requires altering already learned concepts, our deadlines can affect our survival, and our concerns are complex and involved. Most children are not worried about getting the car repaired, paying the mortgage, or what do I need to learn to stay employed. These complexities are part of the adult world. As an example, I could easily get my skill level with digital painting up to my drawing level, if a spent 8 hours a day painting in the media for two weeks. Unfortunately, this would mean l would lose my present job, and the benefits that I need for the previously mentioned child. Not an outcome that a child has to consider. Therefore a child can react to an impulse and learn something new, while most adults will stop weight the cost of learning before they commit to the task.

At this point, I'm going to stop writing. It is getting late, and I am beginning to meander. I hope that this is more clearly stated than my previous posts.
  05 May 2005
jebas: Nice post, in agreement over here. But I'm mainly posting to mention that my younger brother (and older, to a lesser degree) has asperger's also. I suspect I was lucky enough to get the genes from the other side of the family. The younger brother is 16, now, and we've known since he was 4 or so. He was really late in developing speech, which was mainly how we discovered the condition. He's a fascinating kid; in his own imaginary worlds most of the time, little to no sense of embarassment. He has no mind for abstract concepts like math, but he's a brilliant young actor, and has literally hours of film dialogue memorized.

Pardon the OT post, but I had to when you mentioned your daughter
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