What did you find today that you wanted to use as the subject for your art?
What, you spent the day in front of the TV doing nothing, but eating bonbons and flipping through channels? You’ve wasted a day and it was a day with sunshine which is rare for Oregon this time of year, so why on earth would you want to waste it watching television?
You should be looking with a cop’s eye every day. What pray tell is a cop’s eye? In another life I was a working badge, that is what police folks call guys On The Job, they don’t much like cops because you see that word has some very bad connotations and it has been used by the talking heads on television to mean bad things and so the people out on the streets don’t care for it much.
Now I don’t want you to get all flustered and nervous like some people do around a badge, I wasn’t out on the STREET. I worked in dispatch, for two very good reasons, no one gets shot in dispatch and I am not very event motivated. Police guys are event motivated.
If for instance you have a radio call saying, “Naked woman running on highway,” you will have ten cars check out on it cause seeing a naked person is pretty interesting and most of the time patrol work is not interesting, in fact it isn’t even mildly interesting, it is boring and seeing a nekkid person is a lot better than being bored. On the other and if you have a call which says, “domestic disturbance in…take your pick, the projects, the slums, the 888 prefix," you will have every car in town go ten-seven for coffee. Well, see domestics are squishy, they can’t get out of hand pretty quick, they can get violent even quicker and no matter what you do someone is going to be mad and you’ll be the one they are mad at cause with a domestic it ain’t ever going to be them.
But back to having a cop’s eye, it means being observant, always being on the lookout for trouble or anything that disturbs the normal air waves or something that just looks wrong. My brother-in-law has it, he worked for thirty years as a Travis County District Attorney’s investigator and he can scan a street in about half a second, but you don’t have to have a career in law enforcement to develop it nor does it have to be crime oriented, it just means having your antenna up so that you see everything that just might be interesting in your neighborhood and might make for a great image.
See a cute kitten trying to kill a piece of lint? Why aren’t you sketching it? See a leaf lying on the ground next to a feather, why aren’t you sketching it? See a kid, a girl, a tired fisherman looking like the weight of the world is on their shoulders, why aren’t you sketching it? Or if you can’t sketch it at that moment why haven’t you snatched a picture of it for later?
There just aren’t so many rare moments you can let one escape. Get it down on something. You might break a leg in the next half second and not be able to get out for weeks and then what would you paint?
Did the neighbor kid leave his bicycle out? Does that tick you off or does it kick start your creative juices? What kind of bird is that on the telephone line? Can a discarded fishing lure make a great image? It did for S.L. Donaldson. Of course she is a great artist and might just be able to see things you don’t.
Did your package from Aunt Liz come from Nordstrom’s or Macy’s and have a big red star on the box? Did you save that paper for a project later in the year? You can bet Susan Lehman did. She puts all of her odd bits of paper and scraps together in wonderful collages. Have you heard of Angela Pozzi? She’s cleaning up the beaches one bit of trash at a time and then taking it and making it into Fine Art. What about you? Why didn’t you think of that?
There are as Howard Carter famously said on opening Tut’s tomb, “Wondrous things,” all about us every day, all we have to do is see them. Have you developed your “cop’s eye” can you see what is there just waiting for you to make it into art?
I was trying to make up an image for the Ancient Americas show at OSU. Now I don’t happen to have any pyramids or totem poles living next to me in the wilds of Charleston, maybe Charles of Charleston or Ava Richey know of some, they get out and search the rocks and leaves and twigs of the area for their plien air group so maybe they see things I don’t, but I do see seagulls. In fact I take a lot of pictures of those ole gulls all of the time, so maybe I could get one of them to stand in for Native American boids or for some Mesoamerican designs? How to do it?
No that won’t work.
What about this?
Nope, not that either.
Yikes! That went too far.
Hey, I think you’re on to something.
Yes, that’ll work!
But it all started with an open eye. So what have you been seeing?