If You Really Want to Learn to See …

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“Take an art class, if you really want to learn how to see,” my photography professor once said. I’d always loved art class in high school, so I took him up on the challenge — and I’ve never looked back.

He was right. When you paint something, you have to study it. When you study a subject, it comes to life for you. When you’re tasked with re-creating what you see, your mind records it in a different way. You look at the lines and the form, the light and the shadow, the color and the expression. And you remember those details because you have to. The world will never look the same to you after you take an art class.

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Here’s how you can get started at home. If you have art supplies, set yourself up as you normally do; if you don’t, grab a pencil and paper. Then, put something in front of you. Something as simple as a vase or a pear are great places to start. And just study it for a bit, then begin to re-create it on paper.

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You will begin to notice details and the way the light hits the object. Where are the darkest and lightest parts? If you do this for 10 minutes or longer, I promise you you will look at everything closer that day. It will begin to affect how you notice the world. And whether you want to make art or not, it’s an exercise everyone can benefit from. Art, after all, is the study of observation. Happy seeing!

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As always, I love to hear from you. Have you done this or something similar? Do you have your own stories of learning to see? The best conversations are on Facebook and Instagram, I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers!

The “Radical Act” of Enjoyment

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Current events have me thinking about the cause of women.
Years ago, in 2010, I started a series called “The Goddess of Wine.” I was inspired by the women in my life. I noticed the pressure they felt, the guilt when they did literally anything for themselves. I noticed something else, too: Society seemed to join in and judge women for doing for themselves.
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Prior to doing my art full time, I spent 16 happy years as a hairdresser. I loved my clients, and my heart would break a little when I’d hear their stories of guilt again and again. My male clients did not seem to suffer from this. These were amazing women, champions for their families and communities, giving it their all. Still, there was guilt. I think it’s high time for women to give up guilt and own their joy! I do not present these as facts, just my observations. After all, its my observations that form the basis for my art.
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As an artist, I wanted to do a series completely dedicated to the joyous, riotous celebrating of women, doing nothing but enjoying themselves. No apologies, no guilt — after all, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first.
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I haven’t painted anything in that series for a couple of years now, but I think it’s time to pull out these ladies to play again. I think the world could stand to see more women in the completely “radical act” of enjoying themselves. Revisiting last week’s blog, I guess artists can’t help but respond to current events.
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I have an exhibition coming up in March that will hang at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. This will be a series of landscapes, meant to soothe the soul. I’m still finishing up the final touches on that. But March is Women’s History Month, and you can bet I’ll be celebrating with the resurrection of the “Goddesses of Wine” series, as well as sharing information about my favorite female artists. I’m really looking forward to March! How about you?
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As always I love hearing from you, the best conversations happen on Facebook and Instagram. See you there.