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5 Ways to See the World – What beauty have you noticed lately?

The American novelist Saul Bellow once asked, “What is art but a way of seeing?”

There is so much to look at all the time, but what does it mean to really “see”?

5 Ways to See the World, is my list of “seeing tips” that have guided me in making my woodblock prints. If you desire to see the world in all its wonder, perhaps you’ll find these tips useful too.

1. Feel it 

It is most important to pay attention to what matters to you. I make images of what feels meaningful to me.

My art is about nature. Nature and the environment is what gives me joy and a sense of purpose in my life. My feelings about the landscape are what I work to capture and share with my audience.

2. Notice shapes 

My woodblock prints are constructed of layered, color shapes. I see shapes first. They are a particularly important element in my work. Wings have shapes, flying birds have shapes, ripples in water have shapes.

When you look at something you might ask yourself: is this curvy or rectangular? Symmetrical, oblong, or something else?

3. Contrasting tones 

Notice what is light, and what is dark. It can be fun to watch the lighting in the landscape change depending on the clouds or the time of day. Contrasts – the differences between light and dark – is how we are most able to see and distinguish shapes.

4. Look for textures

Textures may be associated with the sense of touch but they can also be seen as patterns. Like the surface of water, for instance. Is it smooth, rippled, or rough? Contrasting textures, or patterns, may also be used in a work of art to create depth and visual interest.

5. The empty space

Taking notice of the spaces around objects is an intentional preference for me. I compose my images so that the spaces between my subjects enable a feeling of airiness. The spaces between help me breathe.

Bringing it all together

If you have sight, you have the potential to experience joy by seeing the shapes, contrasts, and textures all around you.

You can also look at art and enjoy the visions of artists and the passions they share with us all.

A final parting quote from Henri Matisse:

“I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.”

One response to “5 Ways to See the World – What beauty have you noticed lately?”

  1. david says:

    Ah, Henri, bien sur, you did not paint that table. The table was fine before you even thought of painting it; it didn’t need varnish or paint- we needed to see the fine grains of the wood without paint. But ah, your painting a picture of the table, that is an entirely different matter. That reminds me of Magritte’s painting of the pipe which has the caption: “this is not a pipe.” Magritte may have known your remark when he painted his picture of a pipe, for he, too, was really painting the emotion the pipe produced on him. And the names Matisse and Magritte look a bit alike, do they not?

    I once said to my late wife: “Ma Tease” to which she replied “Pick Asso” Such a multi-layered pun since Picasso and Matisse were such rivals as well as friends.

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