Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Observing light

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds. (Ronald David Laing)  

The patterns of light or reflections in water really interest me.  They're so subtle and it becomes a real challenge to try to recreate them. Its what art is all about isn't it?  The ability to observe acutely and translate what you see onto paper or canvas without your brain turning it inside out is a challenge artists conquer in varying degrees.

I've often wondered why observing comes more easily to some than others.  Is it a trained eye over time or do some people simply lose interest in an object and never really take time to see the shapes, colours and values, presuming that their brain will feed them the correct information based on past experience?  What makes me see the subtle tracery of the lines of light going from faint to strong when another sees only a solid line?  Is it down to training and practice or is it an innate process?  Perhaps a combination of the two.

The art of drawing seems to be dying in some ways, but I believe it is the most important tool that an artist can own.  My background training was drawing. Constant, repetitive, technique over and over and being forced to see what was in front of me without an option of bailing out or slapping paint on to hide my inability as a draftsman.  Maybe that is why I find detail so appealing and see the minutia in life.  This morning on my drive to work, I was stuck in roadworks and spent my time studying weeds on the side of the road, thinking what a wonderful painting a section would make.  Others see the larger view.  I see the ant's view.

I can't resist adding more light traces to this watery piece, even though I know I need to wait until its dryer.  There is an advantage of having the paint slide on easily into a wet layer, but it also lifts up the initial layers that I put down.  So I must be resolute and ignore this painting for a few days and perhaps begin a new piece.  I'm just not sure what that will be yet.


Michael Bailey said...

Hi Jeanette. This is a beautiful piece that makes you want to dip your toes in there!
Art is all about seeing but then how you translate what you see is really up to you. I'm just beginning my journey but as I begin to see more I do notice my work improving. And yes, good drawing skills provide the construction for a good painting. You can't hide a bad drawing with paint, no matter how opaque it is :)

Jeanette said...

Thanks Michael, its coming along if I can just ignore it long enough for a layer or two to dry a bit! :)

Yes translating what you see is key, but also seeing, really seeing, is vital. We believe so much from ingrained impressions over time that we sometimes refuse to let our eyes guide us, instead of our brains.

suzanneberry said...

i thought i left a comment about this painting, it's just captivated me and it won't let go!! it's just perfect and i am besotted with it.

also thank you for you comments on the bee, much appreciated. i wanted to write you an email, but this computer's mail isn't hooked up and i can't reach himself for help so i thought i'd write it here. and thanks too for the tip, i will definitely be looking into online back up and every other form of back up i can find. thank goodness jon was able to save my folders but it was much too close for comfort! thanks again!

Olivia said...

Jeannette, I want to swimm there !

Christiane Kingsley said...

This is such an interesting post, Jeanette! I really don't know if knowing how to see and observe is innate or developed...
I love how you paint water.