Monday, May 3, 2010

The Eyes of the Artist

This will be the final installment in the "Anatomy & Physiology of the Artist" series that I have had going on over the last two months. We are ending on one of the most important systems, the eyes, the organ of sight. As I was out yesterday, I found myself looking at the trees, at the colors and shading, wondering how to differentiate one tree from the next, as if I were trying to put it onto paper, especially when the colors, while different shades, are so close to each other. I was really looking hard, trying to see, really see, the shadows, depths, colors. It isn't always easy.
What the eye sees is not really always acknowledged by the brain. When we do our Zentangles, as we add shading, suddenly, we see a bending, or a rounding, where before, it was flat paper. But we don't always notice this shading, even though our eyes are seeing it. We can become more acutely aware of what we are actually seeing, and, thus, add a dimension to our art work that may have been missing.
The eyes can determine shades, depth, texture, hues, missing elements...we see what is not there,...vapors in the air, shininess/dullness...and so much more. I am quite sure we are only aware of a small part of what really is seen by the eyes. As artists, we can also look at things in a different way. In order to learn perspective, we have to look at the angles, and how they would be drawn on a flat piece of paper. For 3-D elements, we have to see what is in front, and what is behind. Looking at a many layers, a profusion of colors going into our eyes. Are we aware of what draws our eyes to a certain element?...favorite colors, favorite shapes??
Darkness and light influence what we can see...along with our age...I am pretty sure we lose some of our accuracy in viewing as we let's get it all memorized now!! My favorite time of day, outside, is dusk, when the purple-y colors descend, and everything has a slightly muted look.
Our art materials reflect what we see with our eyes...and how our imagination bumps against that vision. We make new papers look old with all of our distressing. We juxtapose images that don't usually go together, not because we have seen them that way with our eyes, but probably because we have seen them separately and have imagined them together. So, our eyes serve as a tool, for taking in elements in our world, taking them into our internal storage, for later use.
But our eyes see so much more than objects. We see emotion. We read facial expressions, and have emotional reacions back at those expressions. The eyes of the artist are used to take the emotions that we see in the world into our brains, and then our artistic tendencies translate this into our art, and our eyes again assess what we have created, to see if that is what we wanted to say. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but so is everything else...the eyes are the window to the soul, but also the window to everything else. The world, for the most part, enters our consciousness through our eyes . Yes, a lot comes to us through our other senses...but even when we cannot sense an aroma, or hear anything, we can open our eyes and look around. And the EEG waves of our brain show there is a response simply to visual images. Our eyes are always working. As an artist, we may want to train our eyes to see the art in the everyday, to see perspective, to see gradations of color, to see more see whatever it is we want to learn about, so that we can include it all in our art.
Here is the prize for this week, which I will give to a randomly chosen winner, picked from everyone who leaves a comment after today's blog. It is an assortment of papers and embellishments from the company called Delish.


  1. I learned a special something this week about eyes. It feels precious.

  2. how beautiful! i really have enjoyed your A&P of the artist!! Thanks!

  3. It amazed me when I took my first drawing class that I was able to actually draw something if I really, really took the time to look at it. The translation capabilities of my eyes--how they saw the space, line, and form of the flower I was trying to draw coming together--really helped me hand. The secret was time. I don't think we really take enough time to look at things properly, and deeply. That class was wonderful for teaching me that skill alone.

    Thanks for this series. It's been great reading!

  4. I have really enjoyed your entire Artist series Kate...thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  5. I've been seeing art through my son who simply loves to draw. He uses a Wacom Tablet. And he does amazing stuff...I am learning so much! I wish I would have taken art in school. Thanks for thinking of us...and sharing about what we see!

  6. I teach an private art class and we covered alot of this last week!!
    Any way stopped by to Thank you for entering my giveaway! Best of luck.

  7. Find I must train my eye to slow down and see more elements.....color combos, composition, size, etc. and retain those to apply to my creations.

  8. "Eye" see what you are saying! Vision is so wonderful. I am trying to get my mind's eye to connect better to my hands ... what I "see" is not always what I get!

    - Julie

  9. So true about the eyes, we see more than we think and I feel our eyes connect to our emotions, just look at a child's eyes and you know what they are feeling, look into the eyes of the elderly and you see more emotions than you may want to. Always look into the eyes of those you love to help you connect with their feelings.

  10. You really said it right about the eyes, and the colors as we age! I do so enjoy your Blog and drool over the great classes you all hold at your store! Oh, it would be so nice to have just one really good store closer than 200 miles, and more than just the one Hobby Lobby for 100 miles! Your customers are so very lucky! Nelda in TN

  11. Kate, your series has been great! I've really enjoyed it....I loved reading what your wrote about our eyes...And yes, Nelda, we are very lucky to have AE near us!

  12. the eyes have it!! seeing is such an important part of art....
    I have really enjoyed your series Kate!! Thanks!!!