Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Artist's Eye

This past Sunday, Rachel and I intended to go to church, but woke up late, forgetting that they'd switched to the morning service.  I sat, listening to a recorded dharma talk, staring out the window.  As I watched a bush outside my window, a flurry of gently drifting dandellion puffs, and a small bird, I realized how much there is to see in the supposedly mundane.  One of the things that makes humans wonderful is the ability to look at something and see more than the sum of its parts.

We all have an artist's eye.  It might be more pronounced or practiced in writers, painters, or other practicing artists, but I think it's there in all of us.  I was speaking to one of my students (keep in mind I work at a Science and Tech magnet school) about the universe.  As we discussed the theory of continuous expansion and contraction in the universe he compared space to a giant beating heart.  That type of abstract thought takes an artist's eye, a way of seeing the beauty in what's there.

If your inspiration needs a jumpstart, try this exercise.  Go outside and look at a tree.  It doesn't have to be a particularly large or special tree, any tree will do.  Look at it through a window if you need to, sit under it if you can, and really look at the tree.  Notice the way its branches form an intricate maze.  Look at the patterns on the bark, the color of the leaves, the way the breeze blows through it.  Stare at the tree observing every detail for twenty minutes or so.  There's more there than fibers and cellulose and chlorophyl.  There's more than a collectin of atoms arranged into molecules.  There's beauty and art, a majesty that defies description, and yet begs every artist's eye to attempt the feat.  There's peace and poetry, and the muse we search so elusively to find.  They say the devil's in the details, but I disagree.  It's in the details that we truly find God.


  1. Hey, Chris. Great post. I love trees. Love the shape, the colors. Love when the when rustles the leaves. Great sounds. We should all take more time to smell the air, listen to the rustle of the breeze, and look at a tree. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. We have a pine tree in the backyard and I spend time just looking at it. I'm not sure why it catches my attention, but there's a nice symmetry to it. It's peaceful. I'm off to look at it now. Thanks.