Amazing Matisse

I get to the Museum of Modern Art about once a year. My favorite gallery is lined with paintings by Henri Matisse. My habit is to choose just one of the paintings and really examine it. I always find Matisse amazing.  A few years ago I happened to choose this painting:

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I’m pretty sure that I never really paid attention to this modest subject before. But, as I looked I found something that was wonderfully surprising—Matisse painted what was seen through the vase before he painted the outline of the vase!

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Well, maybe not all of it, but a significant amount.

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You can see that the line of the vase edge goes over the pre-painted background and what is seen through the “water.”

How did he conceive what was seen inside the vase before painting the outline of the vase?

How did he think?