Seeing for the First Time

cloud sketches made on an airplane

Airplane sketches

by Lynn Bridge

Looking… seeing… vision. All refer to sight, right?

For my purposes here, I’m going to call ‘looking’ the process by which our eyes send signals to our brains.  Our brains might process the information, …or they might not.

For me, ‘seeing’ is what happens inside the brain after the looking has taken place.  Do you agree that it is completely possible to look without really seeing?

In witnessing a car wreck, I “saw” what happened, but I could not tell the insurance company what the two drivers were driving!  I vaguely knew that each vehicle was a neutral-colored SUV, but that is as far as I could go.  Was I looking, or seeing?

Vision’, to me, is what happens after the eyes look, the brain sees, and then, beyond that, the brain puts it all together into a present or a future scenario.  To me, ‘looking’, ‘seeing’, and ‘vision’ are steps along a path to an integrated view in which all events, objects, and relationships are visible and taken into account.

Isn’t an integrated view of our world what we want for our children?  Isn’t it what we would choose for ourselves, if we knew it would make us feel hyper-alive?  Discovering that which has been invisibly in front of us all along is thrilling, and feeds the mind and the soul.

There is a way to live in this state of wonder; it’s called ‘drawing’! I mentioned some possible happy consequences of drawing in “American Football” and in “Eyes Open Blindly“.  But, James McMullan has done better than that:  he has written a series in the New York Times on the subject of drawing.  His first installment is called “Getting Back to the Phantom Skill“, which title suggests recovering something once owned, but lost along the way.  You could follow his lesson and ‘see’ for the first time!

drawings from an airplane, Lynn Bridge

More airplane drawings

by Lynn Bridge

Drawing is still teaching me ‘seeing’.  When I put my hands into collaboration with my eyes and brain, I observe amazing relationships, shapes, colors, densities, and textures that I rarely notice when capturing images digitally or with my eyes alone.

I find that, no matter how “good” or “bad” my drawing is, the act of close observation and the translation of that onto a page is like going on a vacation wherever I happen to be.  I draw in waiting rooms, on public transportation, at concerts, at home, in class (!), and when I can tie down a friend or relative long enough to hold a pose for me.

At my best, I treat drawing as playtime. What toddler ever put constraints on her play?  Which kid in the back yard is pressuring himself to “play right”?  “What child playing ‘chase’ is concerned about her technique?!?

A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.”  -Paul Klee

Your next vacation could be awaiting you in your purse or your pocket!  A small, blank book and a pen or a pencil can take you to new places.

blue mosaic with a heart and an Indian-head nickel

Blue Heart, revised

by Lynn Bridge

A friend suggested that my original version of “Blue Heart” became aimless in its lower left- hand corner, and she was right.  I recently decided to add an antique Indian-head nickel to the piece.  How has this changed the meaning of the art? You can read my original post at “Blue Romance“.