Looking vs Seeing: A 2013 Artistic Challenge

How much time do you spend looking versus seeing? Sometimes we look with the purposeful intent of actually seeing. When crossing a busy road, for instance, we look to see; see if a car is coming, see how fast it is coming, and see what direction it is heading. We also hope the driver is looking with the intention of seeing as well!

Looking is passive – seeing is active. The less contrast, the more difficult to see. This happens every day when we meet people for the first time. We can carry on a face to face conversation for several minutes, or even several hours, turn and walk away and could not answer this simple question:

What color were their eyes? Unless there is something that creates a striking contrast, most people will never remember eye color.

I wonder how much of life we are missing because we have turned into passive lookers rather than active see-ers? Remember when you were a kid and your friend just opened the coolest present ever? Before the paper even hit the floor, you were asking, “Can I see?!!!” Then he would hold it up with a smirk and say, “SEE?” You both knew exactly what you wanted – to touch it, hold it, examine it, explore it, play with it; to actively engage with it.

I realize we cannot possibly SEE everything we look at every moment of every day. But I also know we could and should make a point to practice active seeing if we want to maintain that wonderful zeal for life that children are infused with. When the joy of discovery and learning through active seeing is replaced entirely with passive looking, life becomes gray and we become dull and boring – slaves to the mediocre and mundane. We need to ask more questions and try to find answers. Get out of – or maybe just discover more thoroughly – our little cubicles in life. Use ALL of our senses, not just our eyes.

I love the internet – it’s not only where I make my living, it’s where I’ve made friends and found answers to many of my questions. But I don’t live there. If I did, I would only reach a maximum of 40% of my sensory potential. I can see and hear, but I cannot taste, smell, or touch anything. I want to strive for 100% – not be satisfied with just 40%!

And now the challenge! This week, try looking at objects with the eyes of a child or an artist or a scientist. Ask questions. Break out of your usual mode of casually looking and break into the world of actively seeing. Make this a conscious effort until it becomes a part of your daily life. Here’s a little insight into how I view my immediate world and what I SEE.

 Below is my office-craft-laundry-bedroom. It is about 10′ x 15′.

look see1

This is the linoleum floor.

look see2

Here is a close up of one of the squares. Take a few moments observing it – what do you SEE?

look see3

Here’s what I see.

look see3a

I made a pencil rubbing;

look see4

cut them out and added the second pencil rubbing.

look see5

I cut out appliques from cotton fabrics and placed them on a cream polka dot background that has fleece lining underneath.

look see6

I stitched the cats on,

look see7

placed the third tiny cat where I wanted him,

look see9

then traced around him with my fine point brown marker and used acrylic paint for details.

look see11

I added clouds

look see12

and created a cotton back with another striped cat like the front one.

look see12a

I stitched on eyes and noses, quilted around the clouds and small cat, then added the road for perspective with some random stitching.

look see13

After sewing the back and front together, I now have a lovely pillow for sale in my Catcalls shop!

look see14


look see3

look see13

What do YOU see that others only look at? Have you created anything you would like to share with us? Are you interested in such a challenge?

I will be posting a new project each month to help inspire and challenge you to add some zest to your life. I invite you to join me in this artistic journey and encourage you to make 2013 a year of discovery. See if it doesn’t add a new quality of depth and meaning to your every day existence. Your world is bursting with things just waiting to be seen by you! If you decide to take on a project, either from something I post here or something of your own ‘Look to See’ findings and can document it as I have here, I would be happy to post it on the in between weeks.

Send your questions and/or projects to patty@geauganews.com

“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.”
Paulo Coelho

Now…let’s SEE what I come up with for February!

Geauga News
Author: Geauga News