There’s a line from a very clever film, Without a Clue, in it Sherlock Holmes is really just an actor and the brains behind the detective belong to Dr. Watson, Holmes tells the press to guess how many windows are in the house behind him. When it turns out they can’t do it because they have been too busy trying to trip him up Holmes says, “You see, but you don’t observe.
That is true for a lot more than those poor reporters in a film which has been all but forgotten, you see, but you don’t observe. How many of us do that every day.
If we really took the time to look around us the work of so many other fine artists would be terrifying and overwhelming. It is best not to look at all.
But if you do that you exclude all of the things in the world which might serve as subjects for your art. Can you afford to exclude so many things? Do you have a complete backlog of subjects just waiting for your attention? If you do, head straight for Facebook and skip the rest of this post.
Now I don’t have the luxury of subjects running out my ears. I’ve found a lot more art to be had since I started twisting my photos about and it has opened up my eyes and brain and now I see things which I would have passed over just a few years ago.
Truth be told I was a photographic snob. I thought an image not pure as it appeared on the ground glass of the viewfinder was just so much twaddle and shouldn’t be allowed much less accepted. Boy was I wrong.
Now I know that many times the image you start with is just the foundation for what it will become. I’ve taken pictures of what I thought was a great image only to discover in the image processor a whole new look.
Sometimes it takes someone who isn’t even a traditional artist to show me the way. My hairdresser, poor girl, she tries to make a mountain out of what is rapidly becoming a barren plain, my head. I’ve had hair on my head since way back about the time I was hatched and haven’t paid much attention to it in all of these years.
My dad went bald in his late twenties and I never knew him with much more than a silver fringe around his skull.
I grew up in the fifties when men had no hair and were proud of it, survived the sixties when men had more hair than women and were proud of it and settled into the eighties with more hair than most of my school mates and was secretly smug about the rug.
But lately, since my stay in the hospital there has been a bit of roof showing through the thatch. Now I don’t give a rat’s posterior, hair or no hair it is still my head and so long as it offers a safe place for my brain that’s enough, but my hairdresser is getting more and more distressed trying heroically to hide the hide. And I don’t want her to be distressed, she’s my inside man on all of the scoop on Coos Bay and I want her happy, healthy and talkative so that I will keep getting the scoop, you see. The scoop on things like her boss having a whole wall for art and no artists coming around to hang art on it.
That’s a big deal for me cause I am not as in demand as some of the other artists in the area and might not have a chance to hang my art in just any old venue so it is really important that I know about places which other artists might turn their artistic nose up at, but which are fine for me cause I just want to see my art up somewhere so I try not to distress my hair dresser. And that brings me around to what I learned from her boss who likes red and black as a color scheme.
Seems that Josie of Josie’s on Broadway likes red and black and prefers her art in those colors and by working to conform to her color sense I have managed to create some art that folks in juries like which means I have gotten some nice ribbons and awards and Josie has gotten some art, isn’t that interesting?
Yes it is. I wouldn’t have thought of it. I’m not at all a visual person. Things as they appear to be when seen by the naked eye are pretty okay with me. But oddly enough artists find that sort of boring so if I hadn’t been trying to keep my hairdresser from being distressed I wouldn’t have heard about her bosses preferences and no red and black art would have come from my photos and I wouldn’t have gotten all of those pretty ribbons because you see I saw, but I didn’t observe.
So my question for you today is are you just seeing or are you observing too?
Maybe there are things around the ole bay area which you pass by every day that should be popping up on your radar? Do you run your errands and never talk to the people you depend on to keep you hair on your head or your plate full or the car serviced or the groceries bagged or kids educated or do you occasionally stop and ask what is new and different in their life?
I’ve had a coupla moments over the holidays when my mind got opened by the nice folks I deal with most of the time.
I had an occasion to visit a pal who was holding an open house and needed a photo or two to record the work which was selling so fast that there wasn’t any left to make up advertising with and there I was with my camera in my hot, little hand and the ability to do just that, record the image of work that someone else was buying like hot cakes so that later in the year my pal would have images of things no longer in inventory.
Or the lucky break I got leaving another pal’s place of business with my arms full of goodies produced by their talents designed to make my season bright when lo and behold I found just the image I wanted for next year’s Christmas card.
Or the Fine Art cards I received from some of my artist pals who have actually used their own art for greeting cards and seasonal wishes and which they gave not so much as one whit about, but to me were considerably more cherished than a bag full of cash. Okay so maybe I was waxing a bit poetic and if any of you are planning to give me a five pound box of money I would be just as happy if you went ahead with your plans, but if you were just thinking of giving me your art in the form of cards then, please go ahead and do it.
Because I have learned to see and observe and there are so many things in our area to be seen and considered that there isn’t space enough on my hard drive for all of them and I have a pretty big hard drive so let me tell you when I say there isn’t room for them all I am not just whistling Dixie, which isn’t really politically correct any more, but Dixie is a fine little marching tune and I don’t mean anything by it except it is a great tune. So when I say see and observe, maybe you should just do it and not whistle anything so inflammatory, or whistle at all for that matter cause all of that puckering might be taken for a completely different gesture and you wouldn’t want to be misconstrued just when you were getting the hang of all of this observing business, right? So eyes wide open, head clear and onward into the fog!