I thought this experience I had recently might interest you guys! I think it’s an exercise a lot of artists could benefit from.
CC: Thank you so fucking much for submitting this. Seriously.
This is a brilliant lesson, and a brilliant way to learn it. It made me want to share my own awakening to the intrinsic differences in things. It seems like a small moment, but I think of it every day-
My entire artistic life was started, really started, when I was about 8 and my parents took me to see the opening of an exhibit on Monet. It was a big to-do, there were actors in 19th century gear and guides taking people through the show individually, and a giant chalk garden where guests were asked to draw their own impressions of flowers to make a community art project.
Anyway, there was a big performance about the life of Monet, and it was punctuated by an actor wandering onto the set and reciting quotes from Monet’s diaries. And he said one thing that I remember, with crystal clarity-
“Paint what you see, not what you think you ought to see.”
That moment changed my life, and I think on it every day. Especially when I’m having difficulty wrapping my mind around a concept, shape or idea that is new or foreign to me.
It’s a very hard lesson to learn. In fact, I think it is a lesson never learned- only improved upon. But you do yourself a disservice by not striving to that ideal every single day, in everything you do.
Monet (an artist I appreciate greatly, but don’t exactly love the look of) grappled for years with the base color of the world. He could look at a hay bale and look past his assumption that hay is yellow and paint them as pink, which of course they were, in the light provided.
Surely when an artist looks at a human being, they owe them the same courtesy- to really see who they are and not force them into whatever narrow slice of the population defines their personal background. Isn’t that what defines the artist, after all? Seeing?