Artful Seeing

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“What do you see?” That’s the question my art brings to my mind constantly. It’s a new way of living.

I see light and shadow. I see roundness and flatness. I see over lapping and underlying. I see large and small. Young and old. Whole and broken. Shades of color. I stop and look. Look intently. Look to see: Why? How?

At first it was a discipline to stop and look, to really see what I was looking at. Then it was automatic when I was getting ready to sketch something. I didn’t just rush into putting pencil to paper. I took time to see the parts, the form, the shadow. Later I took time to see how the subject could be captured on a page. I was concentrating on light and dark tones, outlines and forms. Then I learned to take the time to plan how it would look on paper, the flow, the margins, the feel.

But now, I see that this way of really looking has affected my whole life. Instead of just seeing color and form and flow, I take time to consider the story behind the image. A flower in a vase has a story to tell. Looking at a whole tree with only green leaves, I see the young shoots; the mature, strong leaves; and the old, withered and spotted or drying leaves. What have they experienced? What story could they tell. Even the knotted and twisted branches of a tree tell a story.

When I see a face with lots of creases, I wonder were they good things or bad things that etched those lines on that face? When I see a joyous smile, I think about what has brought such joy to that person. A limp has a story behind it. A hand held out to help another, it has a story too.

I want to see like Jesus sees. I want to have compassion and tenderness toward all God’s children. Even the unlovely, I want to ask the question, “What brought them to this trouble?” and “What does God want to do for them?”

I have wanted to see others this way for a long time, but art has brought it to the front of my mind much more often.

I am grateful for this talent God has given me, but right now I’m even more thankful for what this practice is doing in my life.

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