The bird she drew from observing a photo of an actual bird. The composition was her own. It's in looking at a painting like this one that I marvel at how kids approach art, especially compared with adults and "trained artists" and even kids who feel that a sky must be blue, a branch must be brown (where did it all go wrong? Who told you that?). And yes, I get that they go through different stages of art development. Seems to me when they hit that phase around 12 and want to draw something exactly as it appears, something goes wrong. They can't, they haven't been taught how to see things in reality. And they become incredibly critical of their art. Most adults I've talked to say they're bad at art. I think it goes back to that time when they couldn't draw something as they saw it, so…they just stopped trying or no one helped them master those skills.
I suspect she didn't contemplate too deeply about whether the composition was pleasing, whether that branch should come out at this angle or that. But look, the branches are pointing toward the bird as if to say: focal point. But I think the branch was simply strategically placed to help her bird get the berries. When she applied the pastels, I do know she was attempting to recreate the colours of the bird (though her colours were brighter) because she told me. But beyond that photo, the sun and dots and sky were from her imagination limited only by the colours on her palette.
At this young age, I don't think kids think too much about why or how they're creating; they just do. Why make the sky so many colours we may ask. Why not?
I've heard many a quote by famous artists who long to see the world anew for the first time, to create like a child who does not feel constrained by what is considered "right" or "good". It is a delight when teachers sit down and do their own painting alongside their class and I walk around admiring and pointing out fabulous things and things to watch for. It was a delight to hear a parent say today: I have to go home and paint, I haven't done this in forever. She was inspired by the kids, longed to do art again.
The wonderful thing about this painting is that it's a moment in time--her creation today that will tell of who she was today and how she saw the world. Hopefully in 2 or 3 or 40 more years the budding artist who pulled off this wee masterpiece will still be painting a sky all colours, dabbling in her creative endeavours with the same whimsy and openness that she did today.