“In early childhood, children develop a set of symbols that ‘stand for’ things they see in the world around them. You may remember the childhood landscape you drew at about age six or seven. You probably had a symbol for trees (the lollipop tree), the house with a chimney and smoke coming out, the sun with rays, and so on. Figures and faces had their own set of symbols. I believe that this system of symbols is linked to acquiring language, and is rightly viewed as charming and creative adults.
Children are happy with symbolic drawing until about the age of eight or nine, the well-documented ‘crisis period’ of childhood art, when children develop a passion for realism. They want their drawing to realistically depict what they see, most especially spatial aspects and three-dimensionality. But this kind of realistic drawing requires instruction, just as learning to read requires instruction. Our schools do not provide drawing instruction. Children try on their own to discover the secrets of realistic drawing, but nearly always fail and, sadly, give up on trying. They decide that they ‘have no talent,’ and they give up art forever.”
-Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, now available in a revised and updated fourth edition from Tarcher/Penguin