Do artists see the world as others do?

A high school art teacher that I shared a staff room with for 5years said to me once, “before we can teach kids to paint, we have to teach them to see.”

I frowned as I considered this and she continued.

“Ask a kid what colour that tree is and they’ll say green. You have to teach them to see the yellow, the brown and the grey, as well as the shapes and the way the light plays on them, only then can they paint what they see.”

I looked at the trees then, really looked and realised that she was right. How many of us truly look at our surroundings. We see a shape we recognise as a house and that’s what it becomes for us. We might call it grey and big and whatever else strikes us about it, but we cease seeing the shapes, planes, angles, texture and other subtleties.

Perhaps this doesn’t matter, but let’s be grateful to the artists that show us another way of seeing.

Not only might an artist show us texture, movement, line, colour and so on, they may show us feeling or ignite one in us, they encourage us to look at the world in a different way. They peel away the layers of assumed reality and help us to see more deeply. Give 4 artists the same scene to represent and you’ll see that each one has their own vision.

Monet, Claude: The Artist’s Garden at Giverny


4 thoughts on “Do artists see the world as others do?”

  • Wendy Edsall-Kerwin

    November 22, 2011 at 11:23 am

    After reading one of Temple Grandin’s books where she described how autistic people see the world around them, it struck that there were a lot of similarities with the way that artists view the world. Both kinds of people see what is different or aberrant. These things stick out for us and sometimes we obsess about them (for good or bad.) It’s always interesting to see how differently we all perceive our world.

    • Tahlia Newland

      November 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      I must admit that the topic of perception it’s one of my passions, particularly the way we create how we see through our beliefs.

  • meriam24

    November 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

    awesome! sometimes being Realistic aw well as having passion on art is stripping our consciousness that there’s more to life than what our naked eye can barely seen.

  • Tahlia Newland

    November 22, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I agree and the time that I see reality most clearly is when I’m in that space of creaivity.

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