At some point between 1 and 3 year old your baby might switch focus from painting to drawing. Recently, at 3, drawing became so important to Tallulah, that is had to be incorporated into large canvases that she was painting on. She started drawing for hours and hours, creating detailed world of people doing various things: ballerinas practicing, Cinderella going to the ball, boys playing soccer and girls hosting a tea party.
Attempt to move from abstract to figurative is a natural process at this age. It comes from observing the world and spontaneous impulse to depict it. In Tallulah’s case the transition have not happened yet, as her drawings on canvas get immediately obliterated by her splashing the paint all over her drawing. Although she does know how to color in, she still prefers to erase or cover her drawing in paint, rather then perfect it, color it in or work around it. I think we as parents have to go with the flow. If Tallulah stops painting altogether and just continues drawing, that is fine with me. If she starts painting faces on her abstract background, that is fine too.
As you can see below, attempt to incorporate a face into abstract have failed for now: