Don't Forget to Look Behind You

25 Aug 2014

When walking through a landscape looking for that magical spot that compels you to stop to sketch or put up your plein air easel, don't forget to look behind you (and not for muggers, but the view!). Stop regularly, turn around and consider the view in a direction other than what's been straight in front of you. Whenever you pause for a rest, look around. Whenever you admire a vista, look the other way too.

Familiar landscapes look different depending on the light and weather conditions (and seasons), but also when viewed from unfamiliar angles.
Familiar landscapes look different depending on
the light and weather conditions (and seasons),
but also when viewed from unfamiliar angles.

Yes, it's obvious, but when sauntering along it's all too easy to forget. We tend to focus on the path in front of us, what's over the rise, behind that tree over there or around that headland. What promises to come rather than where we've been. Even more so when we're in a car, even if we're not driving.
 
We see familiar landscapes anew not only in different light and weather conditions (and seasons), but also when viewed from unfamiliar angles. When you are painting outside, take a different path or road, sit down on the grass or clamber up a hillside. Look behind you!
 
Also, walk with a friend and tell one another what you're looking at, what's catching your attention. It's almost certainly not the same thing. I remember being on a nature walk where I was first mesmerized by yellow lichen on sea cliffs, then the patterns of light in the sea where two currents met. Most of the rest of the group were totally focused on the nesting seabirds, eyes glued to binoculars, and I still wonder if they could describe the location the birds were in.

Have you ever had people ask what on earth you're looking at, puzzled by what you're finding mesmerizing? Leave a comment and let me know.

--Marion


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Comments

April Lang wrote
on 28 Sep 2012 5:30 AM

Being an art teacher for 36 years I would talk to the students about looking and seeing.  I was amazed by the answers over the years. I would also have them close their eyes and imagine a peaceful place or a dream  It helped calm them before we began our activity

pbmpaint wrote
on 29 Sep 2012 7:37 AM

Oh yes! I am always looking, taking photos of possible painting subjects and commenting about everything I see. My family and friends have become accustomed to this and I hope that they have learned to see a little more of the world.

Please take a peek at my website and see the opening quote.

www.tishmurphyfineart.com

macbart wrote
on 26 Aug 2014 9:33 AM

At first when I'm looking for a spot to draw outside I can find it hard to settle on a view, but after a few hours of being in nature I notice so many interesting things that didn't catch my attention the first time I walked by them.