When Ian and Isaac arrived at the easel at the same time, both eager to
paint, I anticipated conflict: Who would have the first turn at the easel?
How long would the other person have to wait? But Ian sidestepped that
conflict with his proposal to work together, surprising both me and Isaac.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, really. Ian and Isaac are good buddies;
their play is often quite physical and always full throttle, and they know
how to figure out problems together.

I was curious about how they’d negotiate the space at the easel. Though
the easel stands tall and the paper it holds is large, the space becomes
tight with two children standing side by side, extending their bodies to
the easel. As I watched Ian and Isaac, I wondered if this effort to share the
space and the creation process was, in fact, the most important part of
their easel work. It seemed to me that their work together at the easel was
like a dance, a way to engage with one another physically and, together, to
engage with the easel: the broad arm movements, the turn of a torso, the
leaning close and stepping back, moving color across the paper.

The physical dance with one another and with the paint speaks
volumes about Ian and Isaac’s friendship. Their affirmation to one another
that they are “artists together” moved me. It seemed to me to capture the
strength and intimacy of their connection, deepened by their collaborative
easel work. And it reflects an important value in our studio: that art is not
necessarily a solitary endeavor, but one that is anchored in relationship.

Describe next steps and further plans
k How will you follow up on the children’s explorations, questions, and
discoveries? Will you add materials to the classroom? Will you offer
specific activities?
k How will you pursue the questions that this experience raised for you?
k How will you make the children’s learning visible to them? How will
you use this experience to invite them into further exploration and
reflection? 34 Chapter 1