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Looking with New Eyes

November 16, 2013

Here are some pictures that I took at Christianson’s Nursery, a wonderful place very close, in Mount Vernon.   Students new to art and design often wonder why I ask them to begin taking photos of the world around them.  Look with New Eyes is one of my replies. Up to this time they have looked at the world around them with ordinary eyes – that is, see a plant and say “My that’s pretty or I like that.” Those type of responses are not helpful when trying to extract a color scheme, make line patterns, build shapes to draw or to design.  Collecting visual research (images) helps to build an image library that can be referred to at any time. Becoming an artist has a lot to do with understanding how things look in design terms – like the simple things:  What shape is a particular leaf? what pattern does it have? what is the color scheme? how does the leaf join the branch? What contrasts or similarities are there in the leaf?  Describing what is attractive or interesting is more challenging when you try to define a characteristic by the elements of design. Such as: the lines are so regularly spaced, the edges of the plant are serrated and have a very unusual color scheme. Seeing through the eye of a camera allows one to isolate an image and see it without a lot of peripheral stuff around it. Placing it on a computer screen or printing it out then makes a 3 dimensional image into a flat image. That fact alone simplifies the design process.  Even if you don’t see so much while you are photographing, place the pictures on your computer and look at them to find some of these unique design qualities. Crop them to zoom into some of the more interesting areas of line and pattern.  Some people don’t take the time to look at their photos on the computer or don’t even take them off the camera. You will see many more design characteristics on a large computer screen rather than on the camera.  Are you getting the most out of your camera?      Gail

2 quotes from Pablo Picasso: 1. There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes. 2. There is no abstract art.  You must always start with something.  Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.    

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