Category: Art
The Multiple Intelligence and Drawing

Art and design is a discipline in which individuals express themselves through drawing and painting.  Art and drawing have visual expression language, which people perceive differently, in addition to producing unique manners through combination of thoughts and senses with creativity and skills. Such characteristics of art and drawing emanate from differences in individual learning patterns. In brief, just like physical appearances differ from one person to the other, learning perceptions and patterns differ from one person to another. This paper discusses the differences in individual learning characteristics as explained in multiple intelligence theory by Gardner. The main argument advanced in the discussion is that visual spatial intelligence intertwines with other types of intelligence to enhance drawing and painting abilities of students.  

Understanding Multiple Intelligence Theory

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s by psychologist Gardner. The theory posits that every human being possesses eight or more autonomous intelligences. Individuals use these intelligences differently; this is either individually or corporately to solve the problems and create the products that are relevant to the environment or to the societies that they dwell in. Gardner identified eight intelligences which include: logical-mathematics intelligence, linguistics intelligence, spatial intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, musical intelligence, naturalistic intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, and interpersonal intelligence. Based on Gardner’s theory, only two intelligences, logical mathematics and linguistics, have been tested and valued in modern schools. A section of research suggests that language-logic combination amounts to scholarly or academic intelligence. In understanding intelligence in its multiple nature rather than a unitary one, the theory of multiple intelligence symbolizes a departure from traditional concepts of intelligence that was first created in the 20th century and measured by IQ tests.

Get a Price Quote
Title of your paper
Type of service
Type of your assignment
Academic Level
Number of pages
1st time order 15% OFF

French psychologists Binet and Simon created the modern day IQ test in 1900’s to identify school children that were in need of intervention for special education. Along with the simultaneous work of English psychologist Spearman, Binet and Simon’s scale has the basic catalysts for receiving all forms of intellectual activities, branching from general or unitary ability of solving problems. Within the cycles of academic psychology, Spearman’s general theory of intelligence (or ‘g’) remains as a major conception of intelligence, and a foundation for more than 60 IQ tests in circulation.

Multiple intelligence theory emphasizes that individuals who show a particular aptitude in one intelligence will not essentially demonstrate a relative aptitude in the other. For instance, a person may have a profile of intelligence that is moderate or low in interpersonal intelligence but high in the spatial one and vice versa. The understanding of intelligence as a singular rather than a multiple concept makes the basic distinction between the multiple intelligence theory and the understanding of intelligence that is popular in the western psychological theory. The other key difference concerns the origins of intelligence; while some modern scholars have insisted that intelligence is influenced by physical or psychological environment factors, many advocate for the concepts of general intelligence as a native trait that an individual is born with, and hence cannot be exchanged. However, multiple intelligence theory understands this notion as a combination of skills and heritable potentials that can be developed in different ways through helpful experiences. For example, an individual might be born with a high intellectual potential in logical-mathematics sphere that allows him or her to master difficult mathematical concepts with ease. For another person, achieving similar expertise in the same domain may require additional hours of study and practice.  Both of these individuals have the capability of becoming great performers or experts in a domain that requires their logical-mathematical intelligence, however, the roots taken in order to become strong performers differ qualitatively (in terms of process) and sometimes quantitatively (in terms of time taken).

Multiple intelligence theory is not the sole challenger of Spearman’s theory or the only theory to understand intelligence as pluralistic. However, Gardner’s theory of intelligence is perhaps the most celebrated of all the pluralistic theories, which may be due to the evidence on which his theory was drawn, and its positive reception by the educational community. Drawing from a well-designed criterion, Gardner originally identified seven intelligences; it is, however, in the mid-1990s that Gardner concluded that there was the eighth intelligence, known as naturalistic intelligence. Consequently, it allows one to distinguish and identify among the products of nature, such as weather patterns, types of rock, plants and animals. Zoologists, botanists and meteorologist are the professions in which an individual finds the people who demonstrate a high naturalistic intelligence. Today, this type of intelligence is not as important as it used to be for survival in earlier times; hence, naturalistic capacities are made to bear with manmade objects displayed in modern consumer society.  

Our Process

Linguistic intelligence as explained by Gardner is the ability to analyze information and create products which involves oral and written language such as books, memos, and speeches. Logical-mathematics intelligence is the ability of a learner to develop proofs and equations, solve abstract problems and make calculations, justifying its application in mathematics and number work. Spatial intelligence, on the other hand, is the ability to manipulate and recognize small grained and large scale spatial images. Spatial intelligence is, therefore, useful in identification and recognition of smaller patterns, and their interpretation into the actual images. Musical intelligence is the ability to remember, reproduce, and make sense of different patterns of sound, which helps individuals to identify and differentiate the sounds. Naturalists’ intelligence implies the ability of an individual to distinguish among different types of animals, plants and formations of weather patterns that are found in the natural world. The naturalist ability of individuals helps them to cope within the natural environment that they live in. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the use of one’s body to solve problems or create products; this form of intelligence results in creativity of individuals. Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and recognize other peoples’ moods, motivation, intentions, and desires. Interpersonal intelligence is a largely response for attitudes and mental ability of individuals. At last, intrapersonal skills is the ability of an individual to understand and recognize their own desires, motivations, moods, and intentions.

Gardner relied on the multiple intelligence highlighted above to identify the persons who show a high level of intelligence. Resorting to use of the multiple intelligence above was propelled by the fact that psychometric image techniques can directly assess a capacity of an individual for a particular intelligence. For instance, no any published test has been conducted to check whether an individual has a high partial intelligence. However, one reasonably agrees that an individual who exhibits an excellent performance in domain of geometry, architecture, or sculpture has a high spatial intelligence.

The twenty-five years of the existence of the multiple intelligence theory has seen researchers propose an additional intelligence that spreads from a humor intelligence to a moral one. Even Gardner proposed an existential intelligence that reflects one’s capacity to consider big questions about love, being, life, and death.  People with high levels of the proposed intelligence are likely to be found in religious seminaries or philosophy departments.  However, available today evidence suggests that only naturalistic intelligence has been added to the original set of seven intelligences. Future research may reveal that existing intelligence, such as spatial intelligence can be more accurately grouped as several sub-intelligences. However, these are not as much of importance as the theory is overbearing the principles that intelligence is better understood as a specific and multiple content, than rather general and unitary.

Multiple intelligence theory understands individuals as those who possess a given level of intelligence in which they demonstrate different levels of strengths and weaknesses for each of the eight intelligences.  Consequently, within the multiple intelligence theory, it is inaccurate to characterize an individual as having “no” capacity for a given intelligence. Individuals may show low levels of a particular intelligence; however, except in instances where one has acquired brain damage or severe congenital problems, thus, every person has the full range of intelligences.  Moreover, it is incorrect in multiple intelligence theory to assert that everyone shows giftedness or superiority in at least one of the intelligences. The basic assertion of a multiple intelligence theory is that there is a demonstration of variation of strength and weakness across the intelligences; it is, nevertheless, important to note that the difference does not mean that every person shows superior aptitude in one or many of the intelligences. After more than two decades of reflection on the theory, Gardner emphasizes two basic claims; that all individuals have a full range of intelligence, and that intelligence is what cognitively defines a human being.  He also asserts that no two individuals can exhibit with accuracy, the same profile of intellectual weaknesses and strengths. Gardner’s argument forms the basis of the theory education or other realistic implications that go beyond the range of the theory.

The relationship between multiple intelligence theory and drawing is discussed in the subsequent sections based on multiple intelligence category already discussed. Before discussion relating to the multiple intelligence and drawing, the next section discusses the teaching of spatial or visual intelligence, and how it initiates the drawing knowledge.

Relations between Visual Intelligence and Drawing

Visual or spatial intelligence envisages an individuals’ ability of seeing things in the mind; it is the artistic view of the world and ability to have a visual perception of the environment or the world around us. Visual intelligence implies the presence of color, line, space, and form sensibility in itself. As Gardner explains, people who have the visual intelligence are those who satisfy their urge for a visual impulse and are great collectors. They surround themselves with images of their imaginations and with objects that fascinate them. Additionally, they are influenced indisputably by their surroundings, which inspire them into drawing and painting. In most cases, the people with expressed visual intelligence have a verbal deficit, but some of them are able to express their ideas, opinions and imaginations through painting and drawing.  Individuals with visual intelligence often have worse IQ results, as per the traditional IQ tests in logical-mathematics and verbal intelligence.

While commenting on virtual intelligence, Armstrong argued that each person has a great intellectual ability which are rarely used to the maximum. In childhood, people learn by copying and not all the potentials are used in that way. Training visual thinking can build up certain muscles of mind to create a condition of three-dimensional seeing, logical thinking, and four dimensional solving of problems; all these developments are essential for drawing and artistic talents in adults. Jola was the first person to use colors in semantic sense. He claimed that through an array of trainings, tests, and games, stimulation of logical and mathematical intelligence is possible.  Additionally these trainings extend and practice mental skills, such as attention and logic, improve mental effectiveness, concentration, and develop logical understanding.  

During thinking and learning process, visual intelligence plays a major role in creating a visual image, memorizing through images, and thus, it should be developed in large scale.  For instance, spatial-visual intelligence can be developed through reading of maps, park planning, navigation, model construction, making itineraries, and mind maps, all of which are heavily associated with drawing. Levels of visual-intelligence assist students to get the knowledge through static images and engaging their imagination into thinking of objects through different angels. Learners who are aided by visual intelligence tend to gather relevant learning information through dynamicity of the video images, and other visual demonstrations.  Some learners’ spatial-visual intelligence may be poorly formed due to non-critical acceptance of products of the mass culture. Consequently, learners should be helped to understand that it is not a mistake to create an illusion of perceptions as these illusions of perceptions are part of visual intelligence that help in development of drawing and painting talents.  Helmoholz submits that persons with a visual intelligence should be guided to believe the objects they visualize, which would otherwise not be seen in a normal circumstance.

In creation of spatial and visual-perceptual abilities that are synonymous among the learners, Gardner used the following definitions in the tests for visual-perceptual skills (TVPS): visual discrimination is the ability of a child (learner) to have an immediate recall (after four or five seconds). The young learners in this case give the characters a form, and they are able to find them in an arrangement of similar forms. Visual-spatial relationship on the other hand, is an ability of the child (learner) to determine from an identical configuration of five one single part or form of a single part that is moving in a different direction from other forms. Visual form constancy is the ability of the child to see a form, and locate that form even if it may be rotated, small, reversed or hidden. These visual abilities are all important in development of an ability of an individual to visualize and interpret visual objects, and eventual presentation of such visualizations through painting and drawing.

Next section specifically examines the drawing and spatial intelligence, highlighting the relationship between these two.

Learning of Drawing through Spatial and Visual Intelligence

As highlighted earlier, one or more of the eight intelligence types are discoverable in individuals. Whichever, Different learners have strong and weak aspects, disregarding the type of intelligence he/she possesses. In teaching arts and media, learners may only require certain intelligence types (visual and spatial), and underutilization of these intelligence properties may prove to be unfavourable to the learners. Students whose visual and spatial intelligence are underutilized tend to achieve learning for a prolonged period, as they discover their abilities late, or fail to identify their abilities completely. According to Yavuz, students with enhanced visual and spatial intelligence require more practice on painting pictures and drawing figures of the problems they encounter and what they are expected to solve. This category of students finds it relatively easy to solve mathematical problems using figures and pictures, than using digits and integers.

As explained in multiple intelligence theory, education is intended to help students to develop multiple intelligences, and also to improve their academic performance. Application of the theory of multiple intelligences in learning helps in identifying a change from teacher-based understanding to student-based understanding. Armstrong similarly suggested that the best use of multiple intelligence theory is realized when an adjustment of subjects to be taught to learners are based on the intelligence types. Concisely, educators must properly understand the significance of setting up the ties between the different intelligence types.

Multiple intelligence theory advocates for an education system that is designed for an array of thinking patterns, which benefits all individuals. However, one of the areas that is largely influenced by application of multiple intelligence teaching of visual arts and drawing.  On visual arts and drawing, the theory of multiple intelligences emphasizes that artistic learning intertwines with a cognitive one. In his findings, Gardner stated that artistic learning compares to a larger extent with cognitive activities as students rely on emotional, cognitive, and psychomotor skills for artistic learning. Taspina and Kaya indicated that learners often used different skills simultaneously to solve problems. For example, students integrate different skills in comparison, advocating opinions, networking, claiming evaluation and inferring while working on drawing, paintings, and 3-D imaging. The manners in which learners acquire these skills vary from one individual to the other based on their multiple intelligences.

Our Benefits

Differences in learner abilities and intelligence are apparent in drawing and visual art classes. A section of the learners in classes may demonstrate exemplary levels of talents, and tend to benefit more from visual perception in their learning environments than others within the same classes. Learners with different intelligences, including spatial, mathematical, linguistic kinaesthetic and bodily intelligence tend to expresses themselves better when painting and while carrying out 3-D works. In such scenarios, the learning processes are compatible with the learner’s intelligence types.  

Subsequent experiments on multiple intelligences to express drawing results were conducted using Clarke’s Drawing Abilities Test (CDAT). The focus of CDAT is on a number of standard elements of art as a measure in its analysis of drawing results. By comparing with the definitions for visual and spatial criteria, a theoretical common ground is usually identified. Table 1 below highlights the relationship in visual spatial criteria and drawing criteria.

Table 1: Theoretical for common ground for visual spatial criteria and drawing criteria

Visual Spatial Criteria Drawing Criteria
Relations: helps learners recall and get characters in a particular form during learning activity.
  • Perspective
  • Proportion
  • Texture
  • Size
Orientation: Helps learners identify a part or a form in a different direction during problem solving and painting.
  • Shape
  • Action
  • Detail
Visualization: helps learners identify a change in position, size, direction.
  • Imagination
  • Receding space
  • Grouping

Source: Gardner

In regards to the table above, Gardner considered whether a spatial intelligence contributes to picture making ability, and whether it can be a field of cognitive functions improved by experience images.  Gardner’s perspective alludes to the fact that many specific subject areas have been identified as correlated abilities.  There are several positive correlations between the spatial ability and specific art-related skills such as technical drawing (woodworking, metal work, mechanical science) and general art class. Artistic performance and educational achievements (including drawing) need proficient spatial abilities. The value of spatial ability in communications, learning and life skills have become more evident. There is a positive correlation between spatial abilities with success in subjects such as physics, mathematics, technical drawing, and woodwork.


Owing to the main issues highlighted in this paper, it is apparent that multiple intelligences and drawing share a common conceptual ground. According to Gardner, these two have been associated with the same cognitive functions. The discussion suggests a common relationship among the eight multiple intelligence with a visual spatial ability significantly connected to painting and drawing. Skills in each intelligence type directly relate to success in different learning fields, requiring accuracy in visual perceptions. Whether they are given explicit recognition or not, multiple intelligence ideas are most likely able to endure within the painting and drawing. There is a certain need to define and redefine the set of intelligence to measure the criteria in which they are assessed and identified, in order to consider their relationship to one another. With further research, the current discussion suggests that the multiple intelligence theory can increase learner’s success in painting, drawing and other visual arts, and even contribute positively to the expression of knowledge that the learners acquire.

Related essays