The Power of Observation


One of the things that we do not give ourselves permission to do, is to just observe. By observing, we are building a filing cabinet in our brains that will supply us with the information we need for future paintings.

“There is a big difference between intentional observation and procrastination.”

Procrastination is manifested by fear. Fear can be anything from not wanting to waste a canvas to actually assuming you will fail if you try. When we procrastinate, we make excuses for why we are not painting. Sometimes it is life getting in the way, but sometimes they are just excuses, pushing further and further away from the canvas.

Intentional observation, however, is work. It is your brain involved. It will leave you both exhausted and exhilarated at the end of the hour, or day, or week, or year. Take the time needed, however long it may be. Awaken every sense. Take in the sounds and smells. Touch the rocks. Feel the breeze and taste the bark. Sit. Light and color and edge and movement, it all seeps into your brain and fills you with a mental filing cabinet worth more than a thousand paintings.

Question what you observe. Why is it this way? What makes this moment, flower, or face unique? How does that shape morph into the one next to it? Where does the change occur? What sort of change allows both to happen? When is texture the important thing? How can I share what I’m observing with others who may never grow to see it?

Take away technique and process. That will come later; naturally, spontaneously. Instead, give of yourself. Really BE there, and open your heart to the a painting that may or may not ever be painted.

Observe. File. Repeat.