Her mother fixes a sheet of A4,
with a strip of masking tape top and bottom,
to the white board on the easel and ties
an apron round the little artist, who,
when she pulls the wrapping off the present
knows immediately what it is, holding
the child-size plastic palette exactly
as she should. Having chosen the colours –
her favourites: yellow, green, orange, red –
her mother places the paints in the wells.
She chooses a brush, begins, protrudes her tongue,
embodying concentration. There is
nothing random here. Her intellectual
eye intuitively knows where to place
each stroke – dry-brush, under-paint, scumble –
and paint over to create new colours
and shades, changing brushes for breadth, depth
and finesse – and knows when it is finished.
Untaught or, rather, unspoiled, she has begun
with abstraction: with colour, texture, form,
making them one, an aspiration
that transcends tens of millennia.