Drawing is Seeing

Do we purposely close our eyes to the wonder around us?  Try staring at an object for an extended period of time and your vision fades.  We can’t look at a color very long until our eyes are over exposed and we need to close them or look at something else to give them a rest so that we can begin to see those colors again.  If we look at one color long enough it will be imprinted on our eyes until we’ve had a chance to recover, like the blinding flash of a friend’s camera.  We also can’t see everything around us since we only have two eyes and they both face forward.   We have limited vision and we can’t look at any one thing for very long.  So we stop looking.  Or to put it another way we look at so many things we don’t see any one thing.


Drawing focuses our attention on one thing.  We look at the subject and really look.  We stop and notice certain parts, certain intricacies we’ve never noticed before and we wonder.  We compare  what we think we see to what we know and sometimes what we know changes as a result.  Drawing well is a very slow experience and it takes a great deal of practice but it teaches us to really see.

The artist isn’t a copy machine.  After the lengthy conversation between eye and hand something else is revealed, a different interpretation of the subject.  A gardener develops intimate knowledge of her plants not so that she can leave them untamed but so that she can harness their wild beauty and strength and reign them in to the splendor of a bound garden.  A gardener frames a bit of nature and sets it apart from the rest as a place of encounter.  In the same way an artist studies nature and then rearranges her.  An artist binds a bit of vision to a point and sets it apart from all the other looking.  What will we encounter when we see it?


P.S. One thing you may see in the above drawing is an excellent opportunity for a kids’ coloring sheet.  If so, enjoy!

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