- Artistically gifted children may see the world differently than other youngsters do. They discover advanced compositional techniques many years before their peers.
- These precocious children tend to be self-motivated and deeply interested in honing their skills.
- These early signs and others are helping researchers to predict which children are likely to pursue art as adults.
Arkin Rai, a seven-year-old child living in Singapore, draws dinosaurs with exquisite realism. At age three his dinosaurs were simple and schematic. A year and some months later, however, he created a complex drawing in which dinosaurs were layered one on top of the other, an image that bears an uncanny resemblance to a drawing of horses and a bull by the adult Pablo Picasso.
In Arkin's fanciful scene, the long, graceful neck of an Apatosaurus-like beast obscures the view of other dinosaurs. One of them is a Tyrannosaurus rex, drawn in profile with one leg mostly hidden behind another—an effect called occlusion, which most children discover at age eight or nine. In the ensuing months his drawings became shockingly realistic. He started using fluid contour lines to give figures shape. At age six he was depicting dinosaurs fighting and running, using various advanced methods to convey the distance between objects.
This article was originally published with the title Predicting Artistic Brilliance.