When was the last time you took a nice, close look at someone’s face? Sure, if you had to describe them you could do so in broad strokes: their skin color, eye color, and maybe even something unusual about their features. But, how detailed could you get? If your answer was anything less than glowingly positive, you are not alone. Truly seeing is a daily conscious practice involving focus and patience with results that influence an improved quality of life including a heightened ability to connect with others and the capacity to recognize the beauty in any situation.
Eye contact is becoming a lost art. With the advent of technology and its daily distractions we, as a people, spend a great deal of time focusing our attention on the screen instead of the people in front of us. This has made eye contact that much more awkward, almost too intimate for everyday interactions. With the loss of eye contact also comes the absence of the ability to connect. The eyes are where we express and perceive emotion and where we can be most vulnerable.
Beyond the eyes alone, when you take the time to observe and absorb the entirety of another being you are opening yourself up to finding the things that make others (and maybe even yourself) beautiful and unique. When you slow down and concentrate is when you can appreciate a crooked but endearing smile or even a forehead line that forms when someone is deep in thought.
Lastly, we lack the ability to always see things as they actually are. What we’ve experienced in the past colors what we’re looking at in front of us. 80% of your visual sense is made up by your brain, based on memory and previous encounters. Perception, seeing a situation from one’s own perspective is subjective since it is often skewed with different emotions, whereas observation is objective, being able to see things for what they are. You interpret what someone should look like based on faces you’ve come across in the past. This is called Visual Memory and while helpful in the everyday sense, it can inhibit your ability as an artist to fully recognize the interesting nuances of your subject matter.
Sharpening your power of observation is a daily practice that takes time to master. Join us starting on Friday, May 31st, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm for our 4-week beginner series, “Up Close & Personal: The Art of the Sketched Portrait.” Take an in-depth look at the anatomy of the human face and learn how to draw realistic portraits. Click here to register