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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Seeing is believing and not seeing is Foolishness


It’s been two years since I had my eyes checked. I sometimes think the reason I like to paint with bright colors is because my eyesight is growing dim. The beginnings of cataracts are clouding my eyes, and my invisible bifocals slip down on my nose while I paint. Getting old is not as fun as some people make it out to be.

You’re only as young as you feel, people like to say. But what happens when you’re not feeling as young as you used to feel? Ah, now there’s the rub.

"Blending In" Acrylic on canvas
I was overjoyed to find that my eyes are relatively in good health, and I don’t need to see the doctor for one year. All my fretting was for nothing. My husband, on the other hand, is having to redo his cataract surgery in a few weeks. In this light, I couldn’t help but think of all the expressions we use every day pertaining to sight.

We say someone is “looking beyond the mark” when they worry too much about the future and not enough about the present.

We say someone is “short-sighted” when they fail to plan ahead.

Wisdom is often compared with sight, as in understanding. When we gain understanding, we can see truth clearly.

Most art instructors agree that what they really teach their art students to do is how to see. Being able to focus and see what is rather than what we think is there is a matter of re-training your eyes to ignore your brain’s perceptions.

"Pelican Pointe" 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas. Recently SOLD 20 x 24 Print on FAA
The brain has a tendency to fill in missing pieces for us, much the same way a computer is programmed to finish or fix a misspelled word. It has been proven that we can read a sentence of consonants without the vowels because our brain fills in the missing letters.

Truth is a lot like that. We must learn to examine what is actually there, but also call into play our sixth sense or gut instinct. Sometimes we know something is true and we ignore it. 

Why do we ignore truth: because of preconceptions that have been taught to us
by our parents or teachers and because of ingrained habits or traditions. 

Thinking clearly for ourselves requires searching, learning, studying, and something many people call “heart” knowledge; another term for gut instinct.

Seeing with an artist’s eye requires focus, study, and practice. Gaining an understanding of how things are made and how they work together helps to define form, shape, and movement.
Learning to see what is instead of what might be or could be is how professional skill is developed. Innate talent helps, but the knowledge is out there for all of us to use and better ourselves.
"Brown Thrasher" 16 x 20 acrylic on panel in decorative barn wood frame