The other day I found myself at one of those betwixt times, several to-do tasks completed and a little gap of time before an afternoon appointment. No time to start a new project, but too much time to waste on Facebook. What to do?
Easy! Hoist my shoulder bag and head outside, simply because it is not yet winter!
Right outside my door is a lovely plaza called Bicentennial Square in Concord NH. I found a place to sit near an art installation made of strategically placed stones and stone sculptures. After some slow breathing and looking around, I decided to spend time getting to know Hole Rock (just behind Split Rock).
It is so relaxing to start a sketch knowing I will use only my fountain pen and my water brush that contains diluted ink. So simple, just ‘relax and focus’, a great combination.
As I closed my sketchbook and stood up to leave, a thought-prompt leapt to mind:
“The Last Thing I Saw Was…”
I found myself taking notes on an unbidden rush of words—
“The last thing I saw before I left home was…”
“The last thing I saw before the bus arrived was…”
“The last thing I saw before the plane took off was…”
Why not do it now?
Look around, wherever you are, then focus on something, anything. Look at it for a full minute, study it, then shut your eyes. If you are in public and that feels odd, you can put your hands in front of your eyes and rub your forehead like we all do when we are overtired. No one will even notice. But you will.
“The last thing I saw before I closed my eyes was…”
Think about it for a moment, then try to remember it in black and white. Were there deep shadows anywhere? Was the light bouncing off a particular place? Was it rough, smooth, polished, angular, rounded?
In my last post, I explained a thing that I call “eye-stutters”, when your glance is interrupted by a visual second thought. That ricocheted glance is a clue to something you might want to observe in detail. At any moment you can pause and decide to breathe with a rock, with a tree, with a broken brick on the patio of Bicentennial Square.
“Why not do it now?” It only takes a minute.
You might be amazed at what you suddenly see. I once did a drawing in a small sketchbook using the same art supplies I used for the sketch above. When I showed the sketch to a friend, they said, “It looks like the Grand Canyon!” I smiled and agreed, yes, it did look like that.
In truth it was a zoomed-in drawing of a parking-lot pothole that contained a bit of gravel and a cigarette butt.
I tell my students, “Anything Worth Seeing Is Worth Sketching.” If something causes an ‘eye-stutter’, it is asking for a second look.
Who knows what you might see if you look long enough.