Learning to see is an artist’s lifelong ambition. We train our eyes to see the world around us either more truthfully or from a different vantage point than one might readily see. Some artists see and translate color in a way that catches our breath. Other artists render interior worlds to show us something beyond reality. An artist uses a multitude of means to show us what he or she sees–line, shapes, light & shadow, color, tones, texture, edges, composition, on and on we could go. Winter heightens my vision of a world of lines with bare-limbed trees, brush, and crusty grass. With spring my eyes see more shapes around me…globs of color, and shapes of light everywhere. I’m also captivated by the human face…I continually “see” new aspects of the face and am constantly training my eyes to approach drawing the face or figure without preconceived notions of what a face is. Charcoal, for me, is a perfect medium for rendering faces. Even an artist’s choice of medium is part of his/her attempt to show you what he/she is seeing. For myself, I love the simplicity of a charcoal drawing–a bit like poetry, distilling the information down to only essentials. Even this, the essentials, is what we have to train our eyes to see…not to get lost in rendering the eyelashes and pores of skin.
It seems that this is also helpful for life. Learning to see the larger, essential shapes of our lives is far more beneficial than getting bogged down in the minute details. Learning to live more truthfully, learning to see beyond the veil if you will, and training our eyes and hearts not to rely on preconceived notions, but to really peer into things and find the beauty in them. It isn’t easy…this learning to see. But it is rewarding and fascinating. Again, I hear my favorite poet, Mr. Frost: ” Two roads diverged into a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”