Monday, May 5, 2014

Learning how to see {the #sketchtosee project}

"Just learn how to see, and you will know whatever it is 
that you need to see...To see rightly is to be able to be 
fully present– without fear, without bias, 
and without judgement."
~Richard Rohr

"Jesus said, 'What can I do for you?'
The blind man said, 'Rabbi, I want to see.'"
Matthew 10:51

Seeing is much more subjective than it appears.

Today as I was teaching a wiggly group of preschoolers, I tried to convey to them the difference between seeing with our eyes and seeing with our hearts.  They each held a paper heart I had given them against their chest and they listened as I told them of Saul who became Paul and who was made blind so he could better see who Jesus was.  For between the two– physical sight, and Spirit-sight–  physical sight is truly the lesser gift.

I am blind every day.  I am blind to the things and the people in my life even though they may be in plain sight.  I glance over the beauty in my busyness, eyes glazed with all of the looking ahead so I can accomplish my "doing".  I literally trip over the things in my home that have found a place in the middle of the floor, because when they have been there long enough, I no longer see them.  I find this to be the case figuratively as well.

My word for 2014 has been now-full.  I want not only my eyes, but my spirit also, to be focused on the present, open to each moment, and full of the now.  One of the ways I do this is to sketch something right in front of me, quickly but intentionally, and it awakens my vision and slows me down.

When I pause and look at something for the length of time it takes to sketch it, the experience, and the act of slowing down, changes the object itself.  The object no longer just takes up space, it inhabits space.  It lives and spreads itself out in my consciousness.  It becomes a part of me.  The sketch provides me with a context for memory, for when I look back I can remember exactly where I was, who I was with, and what my day was like.

To take the time to sketch something, I have to really see it.  The contour, the way the light and shadow play together on its surface, the size of its parts in relation to each other, the geometric shapes hiding in the organic.  I squint and see a flattened hexagon, a narrow 's', the darkness of the shadow where it meets the object.

I begin with a prominent shape.  I make my sketches intentionally messy and lessen the chance perfectionism will ruin my experience.  I go back over lines again and again, the curves and angles developing in the repetition.  I hide errors in shading, choose what to highlight, and add a pop of color for focus.  The process calms me and opens me.  And the practice means my sketches improve with each attempt.

I am posting my sketching practice on Instagram with the tag #sketchtosee.  I am collecting memories, along with friends and fellow artists, mamas and teens, anyone who wants to join in.  I'd love you to find me there, and find your own sight alongside me.