Thursday, November 16, 2006

Can you see?

I swear I never saw anything until I began painting.

I remember always being in awe of nature, but I never really noticed it. I never saw the beauty of the one pale bare tree next to her sisters still wearing reds, yellows, and greens. I never noticed how the sunset glowed through the trees, splashing the sky in all shades of orange, alizarin, violet, and blue while the trees were only shadows against it. I swear I never realized how rich a green the leaves turned before a thunderstorm or the way a person’s iris is shot through with a dozen flecks of color.

Someone had to teach me to look.

Not how to look, but that I needed to look.

I wonder sometimes if most people walk through life never really seeing any details; that if no one tells them to actually look at things, they never see more than a second long picture of the world. I was twenty-two before I took my first painting class and actually started to look at things. I remember walking across campus one day and stopping to stare at this dandelion who miraculously survived the landscapers. Studying the light playing over that little flower’s leaves and seeing the shadows fall around it was the first time I realized I had never looked at anything before.

Since that day, I’ve taken much more time to stop and see things. But, I wonder what else I’m walking past, not realizing that there is something I don’t notice.

5 comments:

fred charles said...

I've tried painting in the past but never seriously. Where did you learn how to paint? Did it just come naturally or is it something you had to learn in school. Just curious. Lately, I've been getting the urge to draw and paint again.

Kalayna-Nicole Price said...

I graduated with a BFA in studio painting,. I'm not terribly talented in art (and was actually told as much by one particularly nasty teacher) but I enjoy painting. Art isn't a passion the way writing is, but it serves two purposes in my world: 1) it allows me to express the things I can't put into words; when my brain is bogged down in chaotic turmoil, I turn to the physical act of painting 2) it is a form of instant gratification to visually change the world around me (by 'instant' keep in mind paintings tend to take months to years to complete.) At the same time painting is a source of extreme frustration because I can never capture the image behind my eyes and nothing turns out as well as I want.

umm that turned out rather long and didn't really answer your question. I learned in school, yes. But I also learned a lot from mucking around on my own, getting confused, and trying to use techniques my teachers taught me and getting them 'wrong.' Some things I've learned from looking at other's work and 'reading' the painting. (though sometimes I can't figure out how in the world they managed to do certain things) At the end of the day, there is no wrong way to paint, though some ways are more successful than others according to the taste of the beholder. (wow...this is full of terrible sentence...)

So um, yes I learned in school, and yes it came naturally in that the way I paint is not something someone taught me but a culmination of everything I picked up along the way. err... I'll just shut up now.

fred charles said...

lol, I don't mind the long reply. Thanks. I'm thinking of getting some watercolors and playing around with them. I picked up a beginners book that seemed to have a lot of good info.

Alexandra said...

Funnily enough, I think being a photographer (eek, that sounds pretentious) has made me a better writer, because I learnt (again) to stop and look at things. . .look at them in any number of ways, before actually taking the shot I liked the most.

I now take the same times when writing, to look.

Kalayna-Nicole Price said...

Fred, Have fun with the water colors!

Alexandra, I imagine it would help! I wonder how many writers are also artists and vice versa...