da Vinci Didn’t Just Make One Mona Lisa


Artwork by Bailey Harper

Ever since I have known my daughter. Which has been her entire life. Ten years and two days to be exact. She has been a perfectionist. She does not like making mistakes. Whenever she colored outside the lines or something didn’t look quite right, she would get angry and throw it away. Or she would just give up.

Not today.

Today she was working on her own personal art project. It involved some new paints she got for her birthday and some tape. She was engaged and having fun, so what more could a parent ask for? At one point when I was comfortably positioned on the couch watching a movie, she asked me to come look at what she had created. What kind of dad would I be if I didn’t?

So I got up and went into the next room to check out her newest creation. It was pretty cool. I loved her use of color and the addition and subtraction of tape made for sharp lines. My duty was done and I went back to watching the movie. After another twenty minutes or so I lost interest in the movie. I couldn’t focus on it and I wanted to do something else. I wasn’t sure what yet.

As I passed my daughter in the kitchen she told me that she was starting over. I asked why and she informed that it was because she didn’t like the way her painting turned out. This caught me off guard as I thought it was pretty cool and at the time I thought she agreed with me. But then I looked at it again and saw that there was a small smear on just a fraction of the canvas.

I suggested simply painting over it. She told me that she had tried that and that it didn’t work. That that was why she was starting over. And as I was walking away she uttered the following:

“da Vinci probably didn’t just make one Mona Lisa.”

Bailey Harper


I couldn’t believe my ears. First, because I thought the remark was absolutely brilliant. And second, because it was one of the first times I had ever known my daughter to view a mistake as an opportunity. Maybe she is beginning to adopt a growth mindset.

Minutes after she uttered the phrase, I knew I had to sit down and capture the moment in writing. I realize they were only nine words. And they were uttered spontaneously from the mouth of a ten-year old. But damn they were awesome!

And you know what?

She may be right.

What if Leonardo da Vinci had a stack of crumbled up canvases that no one ever knew about? Maybe I’m wrong. But it is a pretty cool image, don’t you think?


  1. It’s funny how often these glimpses into your home life mirror what’s going on in my own. My daughter will quite often want to restart her art projects but it’s more because they are not “perfect”. I need to find that way to show her that it’s okay to restart but also not to be so hard on herself as well.

  2. I would call it an epiphany worth sharing over and over. How often we forget that as we persevere and come to a conclusion that meets our expectations, not another’s. Good for her. What a smart girl!

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