Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Learning to See

I’m not very good at retaining knowledge, so I always get kind of childishly excited when I encounter something/anything in my day that I can link to something I’ve learned at school. I get so proud of myself when I hear a big word and know what it means, or hear a quote and know who it’s by, or definitely when my Mom showed me the latest Coldplay CD (her new obsession) and I was able to tell her (thanks to Gantt!) that the painting on the album cover was Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix! I love taking studio classes because I can relate pretty much everything I see to them in some way. I’ve really been enjoying taking only art classes this semester because I can just stay in the visual-thinking mode all of the time. (I cannot do two modes at once.) Since I spend all of my day thinking – visually, it’s kind of been like anywhere I am I have a book to read! This has made a big difference in pretty much every other area of my life as well because I look at everything differently. Sometimes it seems like everything I see I imagine on a canvas, or in a sketchbook, or as a photograph. I notice things everyday that I’ve learned from each of my classes. I catch myself analyzing color combinations and proportions, advertisement layouts, fonts, and patterns, but what has really been the most interesting is how I’ve learned to look at and analyze shapes as being made up of lines. Seeing the lines and directions of the lines that make up a subject has really helped my brain to understand a three-dimensional object as two-dimensional. I am very glad that I am learning to live visually. It makes the world a much more beautiful place when you try to see the art in every part of it.


Louis Pasteur (a French scientist) said, “In the field of observation, chance favors only the mind that is prepared.”


The experiences of everyday life provide us with a constant stream of interesting stimuli, yet most people are not prepared to appreciate the fascinating details that are right before their eyes. I am learning.

I still do not know what to put here.

Today in one my classes, we discussed stress and what people do to relieve it. When I was asked, I immediately said drawing. I have always doodled to relieve stress. I was curious to know everyone's reason as to why they decided to pursue art. Also, what motivates you to just sit down and draw? I think for me, it's a passionate feeling. If I am happy, sad, angry I am more likely to draw. Answers in the comment section. Ready. Go.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I wanted to show a variety of pictures I have taken over the course of the last several years. My photos are generally devoid of people (something I wish to improve upon in the future.) So here is a catalog of a few subjects that interest me:

1) taking pictures at night or in the dark. Infinity difficult at times! (but sometimes you can get that pretty cool lighting techniques that is so popular now-a-days: light trails)

2) taking pictures in moving vehicles ( the pink one above as well)

3) Thinks that are interesting shapes (in these cases circular):

4) kitty cats. some of them just love to pose and model. heh.

Of course this is not all that i take pictures off. Nor are these my best works. They all just seem to fit together in some way.

I suppose if I had more patience, these are the subjects I would probably draw. Cats would probably be the most difficult subject to draw. Also, generally, I find photography to be helpful in developing a better sense of composition. I often, as many other people do I'm sure, take many many pictures of the same subject: different angles, etc. trying to find what works. (this is why I love digital cameras! instant feedback.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

While Giacometti's 1950 " The Artist's Mother" has had great inspiration for this current assignment I find myself lost in looking ! I guess I mean that observation while attempting to complete the assignment has been a very good test for the study of light ,value ,and even shape. It is obvious now that Value can define form but not necessarily the other way around . The value as perceived within a composition is ever changing. The strong natural lighting source we have observed over the past several weeks in the classroom is a testiment that shadow and value go hand in hand .Light and dark contrast certainly can help define shape and porportion, but it changes . It can come off abstract while still look very gesturely and even flowing in nature. Line can most certainly be utilized to define form and correspond seemlessly to shape.
Lighting affects certainly determine value as it relates to the composition and subject matter. I find myself not only looking more intently but also more observant in listening and even in my own reaction time ??? Patience ??? I don't think so , just a realization that things require study, even reactions. By this I think I mean reaction to life. Things, places and even more serious, People, situations etc.......... Throughout my fifty-one years of living, I have found that in the last several months preparing to return to the "University Life" after a brief 28 year break , that I don't require what I thought I wanted for all these years. The American way of life is "get it now , want it now!" Trust me when I say that life is to be enjoyed today and everyday. Take care to plan for the future while completely living each day to it's fullest everyday. Have great friends, love your family, and do whatever you can to help everyone /anyone who asks for your assistance. It may be the last chance you get to do so. Not trying to sound "Doomsdayish" but time is one thing that is a great gift that we all seem to take for granted ! Take in the day, the sunshiny , blusterous, rainy, snowy days and always look for the positive in what is put before you! I am a true optimist I guess ,in that I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Call it Karma ??? But I know that if you ever stop looking, you will fade away. Make your mark in the world and "LOOK" . You will be amazed at what you will see .....


To elaborate a bit on the last post--another way for you to get a sense of who you are as an artist? Look at what you surround yourself with visually/aesthetically. Any connections?

In looking around my living space, my love for intense color and lots of it, and an interest in thinking about things/shapes/colors/textures in-relation is pretty apparent. Just look around--what do you just do?

Oh yes, you ARE here in these lines...

The above images are details of (from top to bottom):
1. Jenny
2. Hazel
3. Grace
4. Garrett
5. Emily (whoops, Cathryn)
6. Ashley
7. Amanda

Toward the end of Thursday's class, I snapped some details from a few of the drawings still being worked on...

I uploaded them to my computer and then, today, readied them for this post. I find it interesting to note that though I did not mark where each image came from on Thursday, I was able to identify them pretty easily today. And I recall very clearly where each detail comes from in the full-scale image. Jenny's lines hold such care--slowness and precision. Cathryn's dappled, itty-bitty marks depend on value shift in some very smart, interesting ways. Grace's line's are assertive and architectonic. Garrett's and Grace's line have some affinities--but Garrett's lines employ diagonal shift. Ashley's were easy to recall--her subtle curve or slope toward the ends of her lines and their wispy-ness--these characteristics are distinctive. Hazel makes nice use of scale shift. And Amanda's lines can barely conceal their energy, their desire to hurry up and become a gesture. (I think I touched on all the images above...)

I write these comments because I want to assure you, or maybe reassure you, that yes, YOU are in these drawings. They are slow drawings and the directives I've given you do reign you in, BUT over the course of these weeks of working, 2o-some different hands have emerged before my eyes. I do have the benefit of comparison, and I've looked at a zillion drawings in my 9 years of teaching drawing, but you should see the differences above too I believe, if you really look.

On Thursday morning, a designer/illustrator/former UNCG undergraduate in design Kyle T. Webster gave a great talk in the Weatherspoon. I was struck by his passion, his energy, his connection to students, and by some things he said. In particular he talked about the importance of not "forcing" style but allowing style to emerge over the course of A LOT of drawing. He is right. You all DO have YOUR manner of drawing,YOUR HAND. And if you draw, draw, draw, that hand will naturally emergy, and you'll start to see patient. (And keep drawing!)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Simply Complicated

Sometimes the simplest objects can be the most complicated things to understand. I am sure that I am not the only person who has pondered over a leaf or a fluffy white cloud, or even water, and been totally floored and amazed. Looking at them is one thing, but can we ever really SEE them for what they are? Can we understand them in their entirety? Take something as plain, though necessary and delicious, as a cup of coffee. A few of my friends and I were out at IHOP last night and I ordered coffee as my beverage of choice. I poured a bit of creamer into the dark beverage and was intrigued at how the milky white cream swirled and diffused into the coffee creating a warm caramel color. It was amazing. How can one perceive something so simply and common-place yet so beautiful and intricate?

Consequently, this leads me to wonder how in the world can someone draw a tangible, perceivable object so that it is believable and true to nature, while simultaneously adding their own signature and style? I am in the very early stages as an artist and have yet to discover many of the infinite mysteries and secrets of drawing. At some point, it will be clearer to me and my eyes will see past the surface and my hands will trace the form; the drawing will speak for itself telling the viewer not only what it is a representation of, but who the artist is and why she used this stroke this way or that swerve that way. A cup of coffee will not only be a hot robust beverage, good to the last drop, but a work of art that baffles the mind and stimulates the artist.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Greatness & Purpose in Art: A Reflection

Sometimes I wonder to myself, how does one get so good at drawing? If art were as simple as we’d like to think, well then everyone would be an artist. And perhaps everyone does have that potential to be an artist in their very own way. But I struggle with this idea at times. I’m an art major. I chose this out of all the subjects in the world. Although sometimes I am not so certain of the reasons behind what I do and why I do it. Most other subjects require a lot of reading and memorization of information. But art is that one subject that you can’t really study for. There are many things an artist can read to get some guidance in the matter. Although for the most part art is about “seeing and doing.” It is a hands-on type of study that requires continual practice.

When I see some of my peers create amazing things that perhaps I would not have thought of or could have done, I wonder how can an artist become successful above others? Though there are many factors that motivate an artist, I can imagine many of us do want to be successful in sharing our ideas with the world. It has occurred to me that the only way to get really good at something is to constantly practice our skills. By effectively communicating our ideas through our own unique means of expression, we can perhaps shine in our own way. Effective communication requires that an artist target an audience. Art that no one can relate to is useless--mere aesthetic decoration. A successful drawing depicts a theme, showcases the artist’s skills, and does so in an interesting way that a viewer can understand and be affected by. I think this is important because many of us, including myself, sometimes just draw things for the sake of drawing things. In other words, though we may be given a theme, or have an initial idea for a composition, we just quickly draw whatever we think of first.

I believe this is why many of my studio classes stress taking time to formulate a process or at least a preparation before working on a project. To be most successful in art, it seems we must reflect upon every aspect of our work, from the composition, to the message or objective, and to the different techniques we use. In doing so, we are not just creating pretty pictures; we are making something that relates a visual message in a unique way. We become valuable to society in this ability we have to design pictorial statements. At this point I realize that art is important because everything we see from graphics, consumer products, entertainment, history, science, is possible because someone drew it. Therefore, I believe that our jobs as artists are just as influential as other careers. We draw to practice, so we can be great...and we do it because we can.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Infinite observation

Drawing is a necessary evil in the process of art making. This is usually my initial response to the question of what is drawing?

I have this view mostly because the technical aspects of art sometimes annoy me. I'd hate to say that I'm lazy when it comes to creating art, but that might be the case. I strongly think that measuring and getting every shadow, every line, every angle correct about a still life is monotonous and agonizingly boring. I find beauty in the imperfections that plague most works from the twentieth century. Realism has never made all that much sense to me in the sense that it has a lot to say about something. If I want to look at a basket of fruit, I won't look at a canvas with fruit painted on it, I will look at a basket of ripe, juicy, REAL apples, pears, bananas, etc. Understand that this doesn't necessarily mean that there is no merit what-so-ever in creating art that is a very accurate depiction of reality. I guess part of my problem is that there is no way that you can create a perfect depiction of reality, by any means. Reality is completely arbitrary. I guess this is where I compare drawing, and the process of art making to other subjects, such as philosophy.

Drawing certainly does have value in the sense that it helps to give art an aspect of reality and the replication there-of. I believe that constantly looking at your subject matter is important in discovering all there is to know about the subject both in art in the other applications of one's life. Where artistic expression matters the most is when one observes reality and interprets it in their own way and discovering things only they can understand. This concept should translate into every aspect of learning and understanding the world.


I'm having a lot of fun with the drawing we are working on in class.
I find it very relaxing to be able to use paint, and just be working with lines; not having to mix correct values and shade objects.
With this technique I have definitely begun to see the world more in terms of Giacometti's style. I hope I will never be as conflicted as him, but I understand his search for relationships between things.
I notice things as being more geometric and look for lines that cue into that feeling. This has transferred over into my photography projects as well: I seem to be more interested in lines. Also in color theory- my patterns have become all line-based.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I've always had a fairly distant relationship with Drawing. He and I don't really see each other very often. He's like one of those obscure relatives that you only see at reunions or funerals and can't really remember anything about. We have our subtle exchanges every now and then. Our paths cross. But we never really leave any deeply important impressions on one another.

I'd like to say that it's not because I don't like Drawing or that I don't get along with it. But that wouldn't be entirely true. Drawing has a very still, quiet nature. It has a slow, deeply concentrated language that's difficult to understand. There are often many mistakes in translation. It makes discourse difficult. For me, the hardest thing about getting along with Drawing is the sitting.

There are different ways of seeing the world. The way that seems to be most deeply ingrained into our nature is not the way that artists must see the world. We normally look at things quickly. Our eyes are fast. They flick from thing to thing or person in moments that can be smaller than a fraction of a second. Our brains process our visual information just as quickly. We do this when we are sitting. We do this when we are talking. Driving. Walking. Listening. The only time we tend to stare is when our minds are wandering. It is difficult to truly study something with your eyes. It takes concentration and it takes the strength to resist distraction.

My sculpture professor, Andy, teaches a very drawing-intensive class. "Drawing is more important than any other aspect of art," he says. "If you can't draw, you can't be an artist." For nearly two weeks, we spent all our studio time drawing the objects we were to make sculptures of.

I think about this a lot. Is Andy right? I think about Monet's paintings and the statements he makes about the nature of seeing. His attention lies in the impression of color and often movement. His paintings are quick, rough. His new, "modern" way of seeing and painting was quick, just like the movement of the eye. Just like the information that is processed in our brains. He tried to paint in the same way that he saw. For Monet, there was no careful study of form and line. There was no slow, careful movement with the brush. There was little gradual movement from one value to another. Monet went out into the modern industrial world and painted the fleeting colors and shapes and movements that the eye catches in short instances. I doubt that he would have spent hours sitting in front of a still life with charcoal and paper.

So why must artists draw carefully measured representations that require our full concentration that can sometimes take hours? Why must we study shape and line and value so slowly and meticulously time and time again? Why should we go against what our eyes are made to do? Why must we practice seeing slowly and deliberately?

It is very difficult for me to sit and draw. It takes all the willpower I have to make my eyes slow down, make my brain and hands slow down. To search for the lines and interpret them correctly. To understand the drawing, to understand the space created on my paper.

While Monet's ideas about seeing and painting undoubtedly make him one of the world's most influential artists, we obviously can't use him as an excuse to stop us from practicing the slower ways of seeing. The fact of the matter seems to be that in order for artists to truly understand the language of shapes and lines and value and other things we see, we must take the time to truly look at them. We must study them. We must try to recreate them. We must first know the language of aesthetics before we can use it to our own benefit when creating art. And so we draw. This is what I understand thus far.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


As an artist, I am inspired by many things in every day life. I think what inspires me most of all are the seasons. Always changing, renewing, and preparing for what's to come. Christmas cookies in winter, Dying eggs in spring, Vibrant beaches in summer, leaves peppering the ground in Fall. This natural beauty we are surrounded by all the time is what I most like to capture, for it is taken for granted all too often.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I guess first I should say that I am not so good at writing blogs like this. I'm not even sure if this is a relevant topic as it mostly pertains to the type of drawings I do outside of class, and if it isn't I guess I can change it later. But I was recently hit by a sudden wave of inspiration and for the past week or so I have really wanted to keep drawing. Hopefully this creative streak will last a while as I feel it has been some time since I have produced any art that I am relatively pleased with. But I have noticed that inspiration like this often occurs after I have either watched a movie, show, or read a book that I really got interested in. A lot of times like these, I have the sudden urge to illustrate scenes, characters, or even something symbolic that I really liked about whatever it was. If I happen to like the end result, I often find myself searching for more inspiration so that I can keep drawing. So I was wondering if any of you ever experience periods like this where something has completely motivated you to draw. What kinds of things inspire you guys?

Amazing what a broken camera can do!

My iphone has been giving me issues ever since I had the first one replaced with a refurbished model. Now everything works right--except the camera. It worked for a few weeks, but now is gives me a weird thermal image instead of true lighting and color. I've been playing with it, sometimes just desperately trying to catch something cute my son is doing, and sometimes just for the effect. See for yourself:

Done your Math homework ?

We're not really talking calculus or quantum mechanics, but I was actually thinking about today how much math at least I use in art, or in that patterns of art. Until recently I could not remember the guys name (as one of my other professors reminded me) but I think of Sol Lewit when I mention this. But not only artwork like his, but the strange bits and pieces we use in everyday artwork, measuring put a space, just using a ruler to try and get a straight box is sometimes a challenge (when you're having an off day).Geometric structures, mathematically determined line movement in specifically simple (yet complicated looking) directions are one of the more interesting forms of artwork, for whatever reason I think this it remains the same and I wanted to know about how others use math either consciously or subconsciously when you do your art. How ridged is it or is it all organic in nature.

365 Everyday Moments

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My post this week is the first of a series. I am challenging myself to take at least one picture every day, to record the things that I experience, that are part of my life or my story. Today, Wednesday, February 11th, I have taken at least 42 pictures for the 42 days so far this year- It's more like 1,800 (not counting the deleted ones)!
-Moving on... the slide show is set for 49 pictures (some have 2 pics for 1 day) and each slide has a little blurb at the bottom.
-I realize the font is white and often it goes too fast to read it all, so below here are numbered slides with the caption. -There is music with this slide show.
- Lastly, the slide show can be viewed manually by pressing stop and then next to change slides.
Ok, now begin!

1. Happy New Year!
2. A childhood memory- my bed was beside the window and I'd fall asleep watching the light. The little light in the window always brings me back to my childhood bedroom at Christmas.
3. Celebrating a family friends 50th.
4. Since I adopt manatees, people often give me manatee things for birthday gifts. Why haven’t I taken a picture of them before? I don’t know.
5. Another flashback to my old house where we had rocking chairs on the swing-around porch. I long to go back to that time and place when we’d sit on the porch licking popsicles.
6. What a beautiful sight- right outside the door!
7. Isn’t it funny how when the power goes out we still expect the lights to turn on once we flip the switch!?
8. The light was just the right angle. So, I got out an onion and sat it on the counter. It wasn't cool enough! I dug around and found some blooming garlic. Perfect! So tah-da!
9. Mario's after church.
10. My home (college) church.
11. Dog sitting Lilly-Pickle with my stepsister.
12. Playing with my new camera flash.
13. Arriving at Ocean Isle for a weekend stay. Right on time!
14. Shell hunting in the tide pools.
15. Looking from down low.
16. What is there to say? Stunning.
17. Dinner with a good friend.
18. New, fresh, clean cut NUPASTELs by Prismacolor.
19. So sad, but cool photo subject.
20. I love all things old and antique- books falling apart, photographs, and all the things I cannot have, like this!
21. My latest favorite, “Talk of the Town,” by Jack Johnson on the Curious George cd. Too much babysitting!
22. I have more pullovers, zip-ups and jackets than long sleeve shirts!
23. A typical sight of my desk - always messy!
24. Tate St. coffee inspiration!
25. Only someone looking with a photographer’s eye would notice something this little.
26. A random day on Spring Garden St.
27. Yum Yum's stacks it high!
28. A two-hour delay on the first day of class- too tired to get out of bed and play in the snow, instead I watched.
29. If only teachers required you to look at the book, never opening it or reading all the hundreds of pages.
30. Rest is not idleness; and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summers (winters) day, listening to the murmur of the water or watching the clouds float across the sky, is not by no means a waste of time. - J. Lubbock
31. We’re too excited about the snow to study!
32. The snow was short-lived, yet beautiful!
33. Never have I found a milk jug this size! Perfect for me and a bowl of cereal!
34. A night full of laughs and happiness as we cheered UNCG on at the coliseum.
35. I have mail! Better yet, mail that contains food!
36. Running up and down the hall in my new camera backpack!
37. Bowling with Daystar! My group played 1 game in two hours; the other group played 4… and who had more fun? Us!
38. I was looking at my world with a photographer’s eye- I noticed the bright shafts of light filtering through from the window blinds and I was awed.
39. Working at the messy desk. When will it ever be clean? Probably when I quit art… so never!
40. The food pantry is four drawers down in the dresser.
41. Laundry night—at least the start of it.
42. My bible is open to read, as I get ready for bed. This week we’re talking about walking with Christ.
43. Every 2-3 weeks a letter from mom arrives with more magnets to dress my snowman with. He even has a Santa suit! Happiness!
44. My mini easel is ready for the winter change of canvases.
45. A cupcake from Carolina Bakery isn’t the same without the blue icing.
46. Our school has beautiful old buildings- if only we’d stop and look once in a while.
47. I pass by this tree almost every day, but I never stopped to admire it until I looked at the world through my camera.
48. Sometimes I think the swing is lonely, swaying in the wind as everyone rushes by to class.
49. Friends soaking up the sun and studying on the 64° February day.
So, now it's your turn. Start your 365-day photo challenge. Keep your thoughts to the basic, wonderful every day stuff and experiences you encounter. What do you see each day that is a big part of your story?
- That is what has made this fun. In a way I am solving the mystery of who I am. If you were looking in on your life, like an observer in a foreign land, what would you record? I love to capture those moments we experience from day to day—the bits and pieces of our lives that are sometimes forgotten as parts of the puzzle—finding who we are.

For example, try photographing,
-What makes you happy
-Lunch boxes or lunch bags
-A pitcher of lemonade or iced tea
-Someone getting a haircut
-Your most prized possession
-A hot-dog stand
-Your hairstyle
-Your mailbox
-Painting the deck
-Sidewalk art shows
-A photograph for each letter of the alphabet (for example, an apple for the letter “A”)
-High-school memorabilia
-Garden tools
-Things that bother you
-Your feet
-A gas station with gas prices
-Running shoes
-Birds flying south
-An unfinished (or finished) crossword puzzle
-Your cell phone
-Drive-in movie theaters
-Your fine china
-Your favorite cereal
-Valentines you received
I could list all 365 days worth- but I won't.

I will try to post more pictures periodically.
Hope you liked it!

Amazing post on what a SKETCHBOOK/NOTEBOOK could BE!

I found this post on a blog called Design doubt many of you are design majors and here is a wonderful example of how drawing/sketchbook/notebook-keeping fits in to a creative life.

I, a painter/drawer/collagist am VERY inspired!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

RE: Looking for Light

Well, poooy! I tried to reply or comment on Barbara's light photos, but to do that I can't add a picture. Since you asked what we think about light, I had to post a picture! Now, don't laugh- I do take pictures of onions sometimes! We had just gotten in from grocery shopping and the light was coming in at just the right angle. I love light! So, I got back out the onion which I had already starred at earlier, perplexed by its texture, and sat it on the counter. It wasn't cool enough! So I dug around and found some blooming garlic. Perfect! So tah-da!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Looking for light (Friday afternoon)

I was home uncharacteristically early yesterday--and while walking through my house was suddenly struck by the pattern of light on a yellow chair. All of sudden I saw little shapes of light every where--

The brilliance of the afternoon, the unexpected bits of luminosity peeking out behind doors, on a red stool, across a leaf--all was delightful.

Might you document the shapes of light YOU see and post them here for us to see?!

Happy weekend!


Here are just a few quotes and pics by Giacometti i found interesting

 Sorry it came out so small I was having some technical difficulty, if you click on the quotes a bigger page will come up 
so you can actually read them!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Important Things in Life.

As I sat today watching, looking at the numbness in my best friends eyes I finally realized what is important in life, and noticed that my priorities are grossly out of order. Her father, practically mine also, passed away this morning of liver failure. He had been on the transplant list for six months. Though he was dying, his family still focused on the transplant, too absorbed in the hope that the list ensured to spend the last and final months with their husband, father, and grandfather too blinded by false hope to say their goodbyes. The disbelief and distress in all of their eyes was painful to experience and inspiring  to look at. As this blog is titled, "I'm Never Done With Looking", I thought it appropriate to point out that I have just started looking. Up until today, sitting in an ICU waiting room after the fact, knowing that there was no hope, I began to open my eyes, noticing the little details that usually would be overlooked. The simple comfort in the touch of a hand, and the subtle facial expressions that it brings out. The beauty in angst. The angst that is felt when one losses such a rock. Such an amazingly huge part of their lives. And finally I learned that absorbing every minute of time you have with someone like that, is the most important thing in the world. Not to focus on the possibilities that might happen in the future, but to live in the moment. To look, observe, soak up every bit of them until that perfect clone of them resides in your memory. Looking at life like this will undoubtedly change the way I view art and ultimately the world.
-Emily Martin

photographs vs. drawing

So I've been the active participant in several discussions about the use of cameras and photographs in the realms of drawing. Some people say they are useless or distracting; that there is no need to use a camera that, instead, you should interpret what you see, not what the camera sees, to make a drawing. Others say they like to use photographs and replicate them to make really intricate drawings. I'm partial to cameras.

My admiration for photography came fairly recent. I bought my first digital camera from target for about 200$. I dabbled around previously with very low quality digital cameras, web cams, and a second hand camera I permanently borrowed from my sister (and later accidentally broke). I had always enjoyed taking photos, but found it to be a hassle to upload from some of the more archaic cameras of my past. And the quality was almost atrocious...

But it wasn't until I found myself walking almost everywhere, that a real admiration seemed to develop. It's almost amazing what details you can see when you go under 5 miles per hour. I often find myself wandering, with camera in hand, trying to find a part of the city I have neglected to see. Being a "big city" girl, there is a kind of peaceful feeling to being able to do that! Walking gives you almost an infinite amount of time to look. And photography, I have found, makes you even more aware of it. You often find yourself looking for an "interesting shot" or angle that you've never thought to try before. You start to notice small things like the way the cracks on the sidewalk bend, and how the grass seems to creep into the crevices. Shadows seem all the more interesting. You start to look at and understand the shapes of things you may often neglect. This is almost paramount in drawing.

It's kind of like making a visual catalog of all that you see. Lamps, walls, trees, grass, plants, ivy, anything really. Even people if you so wish. Something to draw from, literally. And, as an added benefit, you start to improve your photography, too.

I wouldn't give up photography for all the money in the world. But, as I said, I'm partial to it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I'm just going to post a few of the artists that actually got me into art. Maybe some of you will enjoy their work as much as I do.

Derek Hess

James Jean

Brian Despain

The Mind's Eye

"When your eyes are open you see beauty in anything." - painter Agnes Martin

I really like to read, but for the last two years or so a significant amount of my time has either been spent in class, on homework, at work, or asleep. As a result of this, I have developed a bad habit of starting a different book every time I have time to pick one up. I do like variety, but I hate overlapping things and I really hate not finishing things (at least, things that I like). I’m the same way with food. I don’t like having little bites of everything on my plate; I eat one thing and move onto the next only after the other is gone.

Anyway, one of the books that I have started relates directly to the foundational theme of this class: looking. The book is called “How to Look at Everything” and it is by the photographer/painter/sculptor, David Finn. Don’t let the elementary title and cover fool you; there is some good stuff inside! I am going to share a lot of excerpts because I found so many valuable thoughts and ideas and ways of illustrating things that pertain to exactly what we’re doing, and these are all ones I couldn’t bring myself to weed out…and these are only from the first chapter. It’s basically just a good book and you should go buy it or, at least, check it out of the library.

Quotes/excepts from Chapter One: The Mind’s Eye

“The mind's eye incorporates what we know with what we see. Since each of us has a unique conglomeration of facts, memories, associations, and speculations in our heads, what one mind's eye sees at any moment is very different from what another mind's eye sees. Artists, writers, and personal friends can open our eyes to what they see and thereby enlarge our vision, but ultimately the images that form in our brains are our own.”

“One of the secrets of the art of looking is the ability to focus on details. That is not very different from shopping in a store where your eye picks out from a multitude of objects those that happen to interest you. The trick is to know what you are looking for. In a supermarket, you may be trying to find a particular brand, or size of container, or item on sale; if you are a practiced shopper you will know how to find what you seek. You also may be able to pick out a sought-after book in a wall of bookshelves because you remember something about the jacket.”

“By looking carefully at things that excite us we can train our eyes to see what others may not notice.”

“What is it that goes on in our brains that transforms commonplace sights into images that can have this kind of effect? Perhaps some neurological discovery will be made one day that will explain how it happens. People who know how to meditate deeply have described the sense of awareness of the outer world and the feeling of oneness with the universe that accompanies the state of ecstasy they achieve. Others have testified to the sharpness of vision that is induced by certain drugs. But great artists may have developed their own sight-enhancing practices. They know how to trigger the nerve-endings in their brain that make seeing more than just looking. The artist Henri Matisse used to tell his students that the inner feeling they had when looking at something was more important than what they saw literally with their eyes. What was important was to "render the emotion" awakened within them. He urged them to close their eyes and hold the vision, and they would see the object better than with their eyes open. In his essay "Exactitude is not the Truth," Matisse wrote that conviction does not depend on "the exact copying of natural forms . . . but on the profound feeling of the artist before the objects that he has chosen, on which his attention is focused and the spirit of which he has penetrated."

“So how does one look at everything through the mind's eye? This book will attempt to give some guidance; but the shorthand answer is with passion. One can be passionate about anything one sees--anything and everything. All it takes is the willingness to open your eyes and your heart, and let feelings grow strong within you.”

“The mind's eye is magical. Through it we can see loved ones who are no longer here, by looking at objects they owned that were precious to them. We can create works of art in our heads out of a special vision that we can nurture within us. One way that we can nurture this vision is by looking at art created by masters. These masterpieces can teach us how to transform what we look at with our naked eye, or what we imagine in our mind's eye. All we need is the will to do so.”