Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

Learning To See

Why is it so hard to look at ourselves?


I was fortunate enough to be (re)introduced to my creative self through Fearless Painting and soulful expression.  As my journey into creativity and art continues, though, I feel called to learn more about technique.

I want (need?) to know about the lines and forms and shapes that contain and help express that spiritual energy.

As part of this, I've gone back to the classic book, "Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain".

The first part requires the reader to record where they are before the lessons.  Three exercises are offered: a self portrait, drawing someone from memory, and sketching your own hand.  (I've done the first two)

Again, I will ask....why is it so hard to look at ourselves?


In the 1-2 hours it took me to do the self portrait, I went through a wide range of emotions.  I saw myself as a blend of shadows and shapes; I saw myself as an artist-wanna-be; I saw myself as an aging woman with a double chin that I kept avoiding; I saw myself as an innocent girl naive to the goings-on of the world; I saw myself.

I saw myself.

 

This is what came of it: (next to a photo I took in different light after I was done to give you an idea of what I saw in the mirror)

 

I honestly don't think the final result is that bad for someone with no artistic training.  I am excited, though, to see what comes after completing the exercises in the book.

(I still have difficulties looking at it...I want to correct it.  On the left, I want to fix the shading, some shapes here and there...and on the right, I want to fix the hair, the nose, the glasses...)

 

This is not just a lesson in drawing.  It is a lesson in seeing and accepting what is.

 

The "drawing someone from memory" exercise was admittedly harder.  I only spent about 30 minutes on it and hit the point where I knew I was done.

I had decided to sketch my son, so in the morning before he left for school, I really looked at him.  I noticed his round cheeks, his rounded chin, his long eyelashes, his ears...

...but I can already tell (from lessons learned yesterday) one reason I failed in translation.  Again, I was trying.  I was trying to memorize his face, to remember where the lines fell, what shadows fell across his eyes, etc.  I wasn't seeing the whole "him"; rather, trying to break him down into parts so I could put him back together on the page.

In failing to see the whole, I only succeeded in capturing little characteristics of him that - in the end - don't resemble him. 

(The author did say that drawing from memory is difficult, which makes me feel somewhat better.  I also didn't use any reference for proportion for this drawing...hence the oddly shaped head, etc.)

I am ok with this all, as it is the beginning.  It is practice, over and over.  I'm itching to go back to my paints, but want to keep working on the form that will capture the expressive juiciness that comes through when I play with color.

 

And the best part?  This is all teaching me to see.  

 

To see beyond what information my eyes send to my brain.  To see the shapes of a person, of a leaf, and to see the way light reflects and energizes what it touches and sweeps past.

To see the essence of someone and of nature, that essence that enlivens what is otherwise just shape and color and form.

And to see?  To be aware?

It is where it all begins....

 

Namaste.