Stop looking and see!

While setting out along the creek at Lithia Park looking for something to sketch a few days ago, I had a nice plan. I wanted to capture something that had incredible texture and tone, challenged my ability to render light and shadow, and had interesting composition. I walked around for almost two hours, looking for that one perfect framing, surrounded by the sounds of the burbling water and singing birds. Little breezes washed by me, the other wanderers chatted cheerfully, and peace permeated my thoughts, but still, I felt I hadn’t found that spot that met my guidelines, carefully selected from my art training mentally. As I began to notice the trees around me, I thought it might be a good idea to take some reference shots of different species to someday use them in a constructed work, and I did, but still couldn’t find somewhere to sit that satisfied my urge to sketch. I never stopped to draw, and ended up just scratching out a few graphite value exercises in my sketchbook to feel like I had accomplished something. I then meandered home, somewhat disappointed.

Later on, in the evening when I was importing my photos, I was shocked. Every single one would have been such a wonderful thing to have drawn and studied in its natural setting, with texture and lighting gloriously presented. But instead of taking advantage of these opportunities, I failed to see them, looking for the ‘perfect’  which, of course, never happened. I now wish I had just stopped, and looked really, at those things which I had already surrounded me, rather than trying to be analytical and choosy, because my perfect was not really that great, and not nearly as good as what was actually there.

It made me think how many of these little chances to draw applied to life in general. Some things have happened over the past few days that have brought up, well, the past. In searching for the ultimately great, I seem to have missed the immediate moments that really were great. That doesn’t mean that they are no more to come; that’s an endless black hole that sucks in joy from looking at the past. Perfect, though, was already surrounding me.

I thank those trees, that let me take their pictures and then taught me that they were there all along, and no doubt will be there when I return for me to ply my skills upon. Only this time, I think I’ll not look, but see.


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