Learning to See


Light and Sound

Watercolor on board


“Oh my gosh – I could never do that!”

I hear that line all. the. time.

And it’s in my nature to argue back. “Of course you can,” I say, “Anyone can create. Anyone can paint!”

It’s completely true – Anyone can make art. For heaven’s sake, there are blind artists, artists with no arms, artists with zero formal training…and the list goes on. Take, for example,  Joni Eareckson Tada. She has no arms, so she makes art with her mouth. Now that’s determination. I love it!

What’s your excuse?

11_joni_portrait_0005photo credit: Joniandfriends.org

I believe that everyone has the capacity to create art (especially YOU!). But if I could amend my statement for a second, I would change it to this: I believe that everyone can create art, if they are willing to relearn how to see. 

Seeing like an artist begins with the simple act of taking information through your eyes, but it encompasses so much more than that. It includes unlearning a lot of arbitrary and dualistic ways of thinking about the world around you. Someone who has not yet begun to see like an artist is running on visual autopilot! The tree is brown and green, the sky is blue, my skin is peach, pink is a feminine color, children are shaped like little adults, faces are symmetrical….

No, no no. And, just, no.

Unlearn all that. Try to look at your world with the fresh eyes of a two year old. Inspect a leaf like it’s your job. Is it actually green? Do you see it’s borders tinted with golden yellow? What about the brilliant shot of red spiking up its stem? And did you notice the smattering of brown freckles across its skin?

Suddenly the leaf is a world in itself! And you are primed to receive from it.

Drawing and painting comes later. The first step is opening your eyes. It might make your life less simple, since you will be removing the crutches of formulas, rules, and dogmatic thinking. But you will be free.

And a free mind can do wonderful things.


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