Monday, June 21, 2004

Portrait of the Artist as a Toddler

Maia is an artist. There's no way around it. She has recently discovered the joy of altering a piece of paper until it is what she had in her mind.

And believe me, she has something in mind. Here is how Maia draws.

First, she gets down on the floor in a v-sit. She opens the crayon box -- a plastic jobbie that holds about 70 crayons -- and takes out handfuls. "No," she says, as she takes out a handful. "No, no. No." She piles the crayons up behind her.

Then she takes handfuls of crayons off the pile and puts them back in the box. "Box," she says. " Box!" All crayons accounted for, she shuts the box and says, "All done!"

She opens the box again and starts over. She usually takes out and puts back the crayons three times. Then, after taking the crayons out for the fourth time, she takes a crayon and holds it up for identification from her apprentice. "Dis?" she asks, raising her eyebrows. "Purple," I say. "Puh-poh," she replies, and begins to color.

But the muse wants something brighter. Maia shakes her head, puts purple down and says "all done" thoughtfully. "Dis?" "Blue." "Boo."

And so it goes. She puts crayons down, sometimes saying, "No..NO!" frantically, as if the color has suddenly insulted her. She is as dramatic as a fading soprano. She never takes it out on her medium -- no thrown crayons, no torn paper -- but if I am slow to identify a color, or to help her grab a crayon out of reach, I am punished with her angry grating grunt. Her impatience is somehow older than that of an 18-month-old. I feel like I am being scolded by a painter who cannot believe the rest of the world cannot see her genius. Which is, of course, what she is.


  1. Yeah, well, so's her mom. This is brilliant. I can *see* her. And hear her, too. :)

  2. :o Thanks, Frog. High praise indeed.