Vivian (4) is sitting on the floor next to the full-size contour drawing of her body. She painted her hair yesterday, and today she decides to paint her yellow-orange striped shirt. A photograph of her serves as the reference.
Vivian first looks at the photograph intently, then with a black marker, she draws lines quite far apart from each other forming wide bands. Doesn’t she notice that the stripes are much narrower on her shirt? Though perplexed, I don’t say anything. Intrigued by what happens next, I watch Vivian paint.
She paints a narrow, yellow stripe in the middle between the first two black marker lines followed by two orange stripes on both sides while carefully staying within the black borders. She proceeds the same way in the next section.
A nascent thought, an emerging understanding lingers in the back of my mind, though not yet fully formed, as Vivian prepares to move on to the third section. She carefully dips her small paintbrush in the yellow paint and slowly pulls a narrow line in the middle.
Aha! How delightful! I realize now that the wide sections she drew first were not meant to be the actual stripes but rather a clever strategy to divide the task into smaller portions. This way each section can hold three stripes, and she can follow the same simple process that gives her greater control in the repetitive task of painting them.
Watching Vivian painting reinforced in me the importance to give time for the creative process to unfold and reveal itself without distraction, without questions posed too early, that could have derailed her thinking. Such intervention could have deprived me too of the wonder and delight I felt discovering her process.