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Nurturing Artistic Talent

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son will be 5 years old next month. He has a talent for drawing. He seems to have a photographic memory and can draw exact replicas of objects and scenes. Is there a program which can help him nurture his talent? Can I get him evaluated for this skill? Thanks in advance for your answer.

A: It is amazing that your son is able to draw exact replicas of objects and scene at such a young age. This is definitely a talent not to be ignored. Memory power is associated with higher intelligence and the ability to use that memory shows ability to apply raw information, which you son has demonstrated. He also has advanced fine motor and visual skills if he is coloring within the lines.

Memory testing can be done using any standardized intelligence test which will test his intelligence as a whole (not memory alone). You may want to try a creativity test (e.g., the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking - Figural) to assess creativity. But in such tests, drawing ability is not the criteria; it is the idea behind the drawing that is tested.

For now, you should really look for art programs in your area for him to nurture his talents. However, unless you have found a private art teacher, a group program may not be sufficiently advanced for your son. Depending on where you are located, there may be some summer programs that focus on art, especially drawing for various age groups. If you are able to find him a teacher to help him with his drawing skills, he can go very far. Bear in mind that programs as such (especially a group program) require children to follow guidelines and rules, which may not be the same as freehand drawing he does at home. This could lead to frustration that could negatively affect his natural interest in art. Therefore, you need to ensure that he enjoys the program and good teachers make a lot of difference.

Having said that, you must be cautious to strike a balance here and not get too carried away with just one talent. He may have other talents that may be ignored since the focus is on one area. Do pay attention to other skills that needs to be developed. Good luck!


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