Illustration from "Realistic Textures", published by Walter Foster
I often wish there was a way I could put it a bottle, get a fancy label and let some clever marketer sell it to the world. I think if I could, I would be richer than the famous Bezos himself. Whenever I drink from this potion, any momentary discomforts or anxieties magically dissipate. I quickly forget about the almost 100% humidity drowning me out, or about the raging person that dangerously cut me off while driving on the interstate. Better than that, the visual world takes on a quality of virtual reality. The sky is a deeper tint of cobalt blue, the magenta rose shines like a jewel, and the palm tree fronds soon begin to dance to the rhythm of their graceful beauty. Even my “cutest dogs in the world” become impossibly cuter!
Yuki and Kana--Aren't they cute?
Alas, reality tells me that the millions of dollars will never arrive in my bank account. But sometimes I feel it has, when I see that one of my students has unwittingly drank from the potion. When that happens, I know that a wonderful door has been opened and life will never be the same for him or her.
So how does one concoct this magical drink? The ingredients couldn’t be simpler—a sketchbook, a pencil or pen, and maybe even a dash of color. Blended well for a few minutes with the essential active ingredient—the willingness to SEE.
Landscape, Cattle on an Island, a Castle Beyond
The Hon. Charles Stewart, Viscount Harding 1822–1894
Chalk and gauche on paper, Tate Collection
Creative Commons Licence CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported).
In my drawing classes, I am constantly reminding my students to work on this recipe. “Just 5 minutes” I beg them. “Take your sketchbooks and venture into the world outside the studio”. Happily, one of my students did just that. The student, an extremely busy man with a job that fills him with numbers and stress 24/7, showed me a series of sketches he had done. He described his outing with a sense of awe in his voice—he had gotten so caught up in sketching that he was oblivious to the fact that a large crowd of tourists had gathered around him, totally mesmerized by his sketching activity. When he described the incident, I knew that he had experienced the power of SEEING, an altered realty where he was so focused and “in the moment”, that he was insulated from the disturbances around him.
above drawings by Patrick Williams
Have you ever found yourself so loving what you are doing that all else melts away? And have you ever experienced the joy of seeing, with or without a sketchbook? Maybe watching a sunrise or the smile of a young child?
We would love if you would share with us in the comments below.