top of page
  • Writer's pictureCharles Gaynor

Close Looking

In his book Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states how great visual art can result in our seeing the world differently. For me, Picasso's unique depictions automatically came to my awareness. I have also learned that I am not Picasso. Not having a cubist mind, the differences I see are my own, not his. My efforts are in the digital domain, so like the writer who must negotiate the populating of a blank page, I place images on a transparent space; images that will hopefully create a coherent presentation, one that is enjoyable to see and has the effect of having the observer perceive the world somewhat differently. I like ambiguity and narrative. When asked about what an image might mean, I turn it back on the viewer and ask what sense it makes to them. Does it tell them a particular story?

The enjoyment of art can be magnified by close looking for one's self, not from being told what is suppose to be there. It requires a slowing down to focus on the visual presentation, letting the work speak to you. Taking the time to not hurry on to the next supposedly important thought, so that you might meditate on what is set out before you. One could use the approach like that of a hawk, gliding over works of art until one finds an interesting morsel, then swooping down for a closer look (to gobble up) the image. I must insert an injunction here, lest one carries the predatory bird analogy too far, don't actually try to eat the work. You might might ruffle some feathers, and your chompings not taken for art appreciation.

Wendy Richmond in her book, Art Without Compromise, speaks of the creative process loop, where one who wishes to create, observes, reflects, and then articulates. These activities can be utilized by the artistic viewer as well as the originator. One does not have to have earned a degree in art to perceive. It is also not necessary for one to have delved to any great length into the background of the artist. One can look closely, mull over what is seen, and then reflect on this creation one's self or describe it to someone else; asking what do you like or not like about the work, what fits for you. Tastes vary over time. Like readers of literature, we might be partial to one area or another. For some it is the abstract that captures them, for others the more realistically representational. In this day and age we have so much art potentially available, it may feel overwhelming, TMI. That is where close looking might be helpful, slowing things down, taking in what one can handle.

One can try an experiment. After looking at a particular piece, write down what you remember, what aspects of it impressed you. File your journaling away. Then after some time, go back to the art work, attempting to see it as if for the first time. Again write down your impressions, after which compare them. Do differences, similarities exist? Have intervening experiences changed your point of view? Warning, your memory of the work may improve. So choose one you like.

I must say that being a member of Gallery 12, I am privileged to see the work of many fine, fine artists, revealing a fantastic diversity of images. And, the thing is, these are not static creators, their productions change over time. They offer us the gift of their own close looking which may allow us to see the world differently, making it more interesting, even if we don't wait for a Picasso mind-set to kick in.

28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page