Monday, May 24, 2010

Week 7: What do you see when you look?

Taking photos each week, I am becoming keenly aware of 'seeing' and the many ways in which to see. Our eyes may be the tools we use to see and to take photos but these are informed by our soul and our life experience. We see with love, perhaps occasionally with hate, indifference, compassion, greed, generosity, pride or jealousy, in the context of our dreams and fears, with our eyes wide open - or not, with optimism and pessimism - Is my glass half full or half empty?  It depends on the 'what' and 'how' of our personal vision at any moment in time..

We have many expressions for how we see:  "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder", we say. "Eyes are the window of the soul". Before reaching for the ice cream tub AGAIN we might remember that old adage that at times our "eyes are bigger than our stomachs"!  Then we have foresight, hindsight and insight.  More curious is the expression: 'sight unseen'.  Well, it's nice to have something new to look forward to, so bring on 'sites unseen', I say!  

Often we look to see what others see; sadly there are moments we have a heavy responsibility to share what only we ourselves, for the moment, can see. At the root of it all, for me, seeing is about truth. It is interior silence instilled with free inner 'hard-drive' space in which to receive what's on view.  It is committing time to have a proper look at things.  It is defining our personality's 'measuring tools' which gauge what is important and help us sort what needs to be 'in the frame' and what is superfluous or obstructs our view. It's not all about our eyes but also about sensing and feeling, anticipating and grasping what we are looking at in order to SEE.  It's about allowing in light along with shadows so there can be contrast and chiaroscuro. It's about summing up the sum of one's experience to make a decision that NOW is the moment to click the shutter.

We are all artists inside. We all have artist's sight.  We might not stop to take the pictures or paint them but we 'see' what's important:  the pride in a child's achievement, the bustle of a family meal, the faded comfort of our old blue jeans, healing hands, aging hands, eyes that speak truth, clear blue skies stretching on forever.  Sometimes, not so happily, we see sad sights we'd rather NOT see - an inconsolable child, the polluted gauze settling over our large cities, a forest clear-stripped of it's towering majestic trees.  We do see.  But then WHAT DO WE DO?

This is what is at the heart of an artist's sight - the call, ability and commitment to interpret what is seen.  To breathe it all in, absorb it, reshape it with experience from within the soul and offer it all back again interpreted and re-formed to speak to anyone with the inclination to stop a moment and see - anew.

I invite all of you to share in the 'homework' I have set out for myself this week. To look beyond commonplace-seeing, allowing what is seen to sink into the soul.  To discover more about that which is  seen, to add to it one's experience and insights and 'view'. I don't know what will emerge this week but I will offer up the 12 pictures that mean the most to me after doing this homework and share them with you in seven days time. I will tell you why I chose those photos and what I 'saw' when I took them. Maybe I will look carefully into someone's eyes, be amazed at the chestnut fur running along the chipmunk's back, discover a dozen shades of mauve in this spring's lilacs, or veins full and raised in the spring leaves or bright orange bursting from a carrot. We'll 'see'!  

Please join me.
If you take some pictures, have some thoughts, experience some revelations, report back here so we can share in what YOU see. Meanwhile here are some thoughts to inspire us all:

Samuel T. Coleridge:
My eyes make pictures when they are shut.
G. K. Chesterton:
One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak.
Joseph Chilton Pearce:
Seeing within changes one's outer vision.
Henry David Thoreau:
The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
Marcel Proust:
The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Mark Twain:
You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Carl Jung:
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
Thomas Carlyle:
Stop a moment, cease your work, and look around you.

Thanks for travelling with me on my footpath this week...

BBPP Weekly Health Check:
Mind:   Eleanor Roosevelt says it all for me this week:  "You must do the thing you think you cannot do"  Covered with poison ivy, I was faced with a large order to finish on deadline.  And then like the seven plagues, along came a disabling scourge of black fly bites leaving no mobility in my neck.  Thanks, Mrs. Roosevelt.  You have always been a tremendous inspiration and certainly that was the case this week
Body:  Covered in Ivy Poison blisters the size of cherry tomatoes, sunburned, eaten alive by black flies to the point of bearing a frightening resemblance to Alvin the Chipmunk - with mumps! - I have decided it is time to prepare better for the health walks ahead.  I will be adding some hiking tips (including prevention!) on my Bracebridge Photo Project Facebook Page over the coming days.  Thanks to Cousin Dave, from North Carolina who has sent some very useful tips regarding poison ivy.
The Artist Soul:  I am drunk this week on lilacs - the vision, the shade, the perfume of them.