Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Expressive Therapies


This study employed a phenomenological, qualitative approach to investigate children’s art making preferences. The researcher was curious about the meaning that creating two-dimensional and three-dimensional art forms held for children. Influences and contributions to children’s art making preferences were explored. Lastly the study questioned what children’s artistic preferences mean for the field of art therapy. Theories of art therapy, artistic development, and child development informed the study. Thirteen children ages 5 to 11, four boys and nine girls participated. The researcher requested the children choose a subject and create the subject in both two and three dimensions. A range of art materials were offered to the children. Children were interviewed about past and present art making experiences. Parents and guardians completed two questionnaires which collected demographic information as well as information related to the children’s early experiences with art making, children’s feelings about art making, available art supplies, and home and family influences that might impact children’s art making. The researcher’s field notes and photographs of the children while engaged in the study provided additional data. Data analysis of the interviews resulted in four main findings: (a) the children experienced support for art making in the home and by family members, (b) the children expressed preference for creating in three dimensions and identified the sensory and kinesthetic experience as preferential, (c) the children experienced choice in art making as meaningful, and (d) the children’s two-dimensional mixed media artwork was informed by experiential knowledge of material qualities. Results from the parent and guardian questionnaires showed that the children preferred open-ended and unstructured art experiences that encouraged creativity and expression. Findings indicated that children preferred to have choice in subject as well as materials. Contributions to children’s art making preferences included art experiences at home with a range of materials as well as early life experiences with art making and encouragement from family members.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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