How Art Enhances Spatial Skills

Spatial intelligence, or visuospatial ability, has been defined as “the ability to generate, retain, retrieve, and transform well-structured visual images” (Lohman 1996). It's what we do when we visualize shapes in our “mind's eye.” It's the mental feat that architects and engineers perform when they design buildings. The capacity that permits a chemist to contemplate the three-dimensional structure of a molecule or a surgeon to navigate the human body. It is something that was used by Michelangelo when he visualized ‘David’ trapped inside a massive block of stone. It’s also the mode of thought we use to imagine different visual perspectives.

Research suggests that spatial thinking is an important predictor of achievement in STEM, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Art has a significant role in developing spatial skills in children. Teens with excellent spatial skills are also more likely to secure employment in the visual arts or business (Wai et al 2009). And there is even evidence that early spatial ability predicts a young child’s reading skills (Franceschini et al 2012). A growing body of research suggests that kids can improve their spatial abilities by engaging in creative activities. These include drawing, painting, building physical structures with clay, learning origami, and creating crafts by using different materials and multiple techniques to fold the paper. The goal isn’t to get a child to learn as many spatial terms as possible, but rather to help kids develop a quality understanding of the way shapes can be moved, transformed, and fitted together. Art classes teach children how to develop shapes, and orient and utilize them to complete a desired project. These challenging tasks help kids to accomplish their power to visualize and develop their inner minds to see through a blank canvas/paper. They can implement this knowledge anywhere while creating presentations or planning structures in the field of architectural engineering or interior design. Spatial perception involves not one but many specific abilities. Within the visual domain, these include locating points in space, determining the orientation of lines and objects, assessing location in depth, appreciating geometric relations between objects, and processing motion, including motion in depth. Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, image manipulation, graphic and artistic skills, and an active imagination. Sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects all exhibit spatial intelligence. 

Drawing is dependent on spatial ability and spatial ability can be enhanced through drawing. It can be developed by physical manipulation and movement. Spatial skills play a pivotal role in all academic and professional fields which require visual-perceptual accuracy. This can be improved and acquired by learning visual arts where students develop an in-depth knowledge of perspective and composition. 

If you want to develop your spatial skills, join our classes and learn the fundamentals of drawing and painting.


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