The Rules of Art – A Four Year Old’s Perspective

When my granddaughter comes to visit she is happy to draw, cut, and tape paper together for an hour or so. I love her self assurance. We draw together and she is slightly impatient with me if I ponder too long, studying what is in front of me.  “Just draw it like this, Gram”, she says.

She works confidently, without questioning her results. Perfection is not an issue. If she doesn’t like what she creates, she draws another picture without attacking her self worth. She gives her art away with free abandon, with no thought that it might be judged or rejected.


She watches me intently and asks lots of questions as we make up and illustrate stories, listening as I verbalize the process of my sketching, “ I am giving this animal pointy horns and putting stripes on them…”. Then she snaffles my ideas without a qualm.

Words presently fascinate her. She prints, “FRWF” in capital letters. What does that say Gram?  I sound out, “frwf” and she laughs. I print a word – BUGS. “Well, what does it say backwards?” she says. Her delightful eyes crinkle and there is more laughter at hearing the new word and we decide to draw the “SGUB”. Her pictures are imaginative and free, one line or shape quickly following another.

I want to protect her self confidence. I want to shield her from possible voices in her future that will tell her she is not enough, which might cause her to doubt herself, that may laugh at her efforts but I know I can’t. I can only impart a vocabulary of value into her, translating who she is so she appreciates her worth and knows that her message, her looks, her beliefs, her unique way of perceiving the world are ample, so she understands that she has a lot to offer, so eventually she will be able to articulate and communicate her strength to others. I can remind her over and over that she is sufficient just as she is; hopefully building and filling reservoirs that will repel any statements to the contrary.

I learn from her and keep her pictures close, reminders to return to that which is fresh and interesting and imperfect, before I learned the rules of art.




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Patricia Bentham
Phone: 250.474.7162

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