Thursday, December 10, 2020

Looking

You know how art teachers repeat at least a dozen times per session, "Look." I never understood what exactly I was supposed to do, so I just stared and hoped something would happen in my life/figure drawing class. Nothing ever did, though, so the best alternative was to try to quiet the voices in the head and put on the "looking" look.
 
These days I can and do look at textiles, (and pottery and some paintings,) for a long time. More often, many, many times in short spurts. (One reason I like to go to art exhibitions on my own, because I walk around and return to a few works many, many times.) I don't know what exactly I'm looking at, or for, but when I'm doing it in the "best" way, I catch myself observing without thinking, without intention, without analyzing. I'm not observing anything specific; I'm not sure what my brain is doing; and I certainly don't remember the images other than vague general impressions afterwards, but I trust the brain is picking up something, and try not to think of it as a waste of time. 
 
That's what I did yesterday. I had one job to do, to stick the piece in the washing machine then to press. I fully intended to go downstairs and weave on the big loom afterwards, but I didn't. I kept looking at the piece, handling it or walking passed it. The cloud traversed all over the sky and the light, (and my white balance) changed every few seconds. But I just looked, empty-headed and empty-minded.
A funny story about looking. My parents love/d nature, and they took up every opportunity to expose/drag us to beautiful views. This was their obsession while we lived in the US, when they had two cars and only one kid. When we moved from Minneapolis to Tucson, we took a couple of weeks to drive, visiting as many national parks as possible. We'd stop at unreasonably numerous scenic points, and Dad in particular had a way of sweeping his arm from left to right, proclaiming this was the most beautiful view we ever would see. Unfailingly. 
 
The problem was, while I sincerely appreciated his enthusiasm for the view du jour, or du moment, I didn't know what "view" was. Had he instructed me to look at the mountain, or river, or lake, or trees, or clouds, or almost anything else, I would have gladly looked at them with equal enthusiasm. But uncertain, I'd feign this far-away, pensive, grownup look, desperately hiding my confusion. 
 
You could say I'm a real pro looking like I know what I'm looking at. Good times.

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