Drawing Out Your Inner Kid

The world can be a crazy place these days. Ignoring the disturbing news of cultural upheaval and catastrophic disasters can be difficult, to say the least. Times like these make me think back to when I was a kid, and how easy it was to escape the world’s problems by hiding out in my bedroom and drawing pictures all day.

Amma finds her own corner of the studio to go big with her awesome charcoal studies.

Things haven’t changed much for me as an adult. Except that now my secret hideaway from the world is the Scribbles Institute studio, and I usually have eight or ten students who join me during drawing sessions. And because we combine youth and adult students together, the vibe at our sessions is playful and productive. I encourage this environment as we strive to reconnect with the spontaneous creativity of childhood.

As children we learned to use basic shapes to draw our pictures. As adults we build the foundation of our drawings using similar shapes. Tina practiced modeling geometric forms with charcoal on Thursday.

Cathy Malchiodi, in her book Understanding Children’s Drawings states that “children use art to integrate not only their inner experiences and perceptions, but also to link their experience of the outside world with the inner self, helping them to discover and affirm themselves and their relationships to people, environment, and even society.” Seems that is pretty much what adult sketchers are immersed in too.

Youth and adult sketchers in Thursday’s session helping each other see the world a little differently.

Malchiodi continues that “throughout childhood, all children follow expected, progressive changes in their drawing” as they pass through predictable stages of development. Up until 9 years old, kids can be content with rudimentary, symbolic representation of the world around them. But then they develop a critical awareness of realism which begins the inevitable struggle to “make things look right”.

This is the stage where many children stop drawing. Revisiting this stage as an adult, and rebuilding your skills, can have a profound impact on your drawing, and the way you see the world.

Naomi adds her artist signature to her contour study of a plant. At seven years old, Naomi is in the midst of the thrill of early childhood drawing. Surrounded by work of older students inspires her to improve.
Helen enjoys practicing her skills as she studies an antique iron during Wednesday sessions. She also enjoys spending time on drawing projects with her young children at home.
Playful banter gives way to the endeavor of deep study and accuracy. Lenore enjoys being around the youthful buzz of Drawing Lab group sessions, and youth sketchers learn a lot by watching her progress.
Working from the book, Classic Human Anatomy in Motion by Valerie L. Winslow, Lenore moves deeper into figure studies. Channeling her inner child will be called into action in future drawings.
Fiona danced her way through this wildly fun and expressive charcoal/pastel composition during Thursday’s session.
Youth sketcher, Nicole, channeled her inner kid enthusiasm into this very adult looking charcoal study.


Working from her new home studio in Arizona, youth student, Max texted this magnificent abstract iPad composition during our mobile coaching session.
Adult sketcher, Dotty, emailed this cool in-progress abstract stipple drawing. Simply the pure enjoyment of drawing out her inner kid.

Feature image at top of page: Kristen and her daughter, Zoe, in deep creative mode during Thursday’s Drawing Lab

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Rob Court

Founder and drawing coach at the Scribbles Institute, Rob helps adults and kids learn basic drawing skills for work, school, and enjoyment. He is the author of a number of how-to-draw books.