Tuesday 1 June 2021

The Art of Seeing

Last week, in the full splendour of a rare Welsh sun, I sat with my three children in our little courtyard, taking them through a 40-minute drawing exercise that I did with them. As I drew a rosebud, stem and leaves, and later, part of the birdbath, I was captivated by how the more I looked to draw upon, the more details I saw.

This might sound obvious, but how often do we look at flowers or trees en masse and miss their individual and particular beauty as they blur into one? At first sight, here, above a vigorous stem were tight buttery petals pushing and birthing to come out of a divided cap - like an elve's, surrounded by green leaves, some small and a waxy lime colour, some deeper green with ridged edges - less sharp than they looked. 

On closer viewing, I saw tiny veins in the petals and mini thorns emerging like baby serpent's fangs. There was the beauty of discoloured blemishes and parts of the flower not usually seen without close examination. Seeing it so deeply, I fell in love with the rose as I drew - with its beauty and budding claw, its blemish and pecularity.

Should people not be seen in this way too? With their particular characteristics, however strange or offensive on the surface. (Oh yes, they do spring to mind, don't they, and when they do, I try to picture them as newborns, before life has hardened them and stolen their beauty leaving only thorns.) We all came forth as beautiful buds, before the trials of life caused blemish and dropped petals. Often a wounded surface is abrasive. A tortured soul is one who projects and anger is symptomatic of pain and should be seen as a cry in the dark. The laughter of a clown belies fear and anxiety. As I drew, I meditated on these things, the art of seeing gives rise to the truth of what lies beneath.