Seeing Slowly

A few years ago it was all the rage to learn to speed read.  I heard of people (my father was one) who apparently could read several books a day by learning to speed read.

Part of the essence of that approach was to learn to skim over trivia and sift out the significant items.  It sounded on the surface like a good idea and, I am sure, it had some benefits.  I recall reading a few years ago in the Financial Post that the average urban dweller faced 1500 advertisements a day which I am quite sure has increased by this time with the amount of time we spend on our phones and computers.  We learn to sift through all this material quickly and efficiently.  So what does all this have to do with art?  The answer, “LOTS!”

Photographers and painters have the same experience.  They learn to see slowly because one has to study an object carefully to capture it with a camera or a brush  (I am speaking here of representational paintings).  I am an advocate for seeing slowly because much beauty and significance is missed by skimming over things.  Some beauty is in composition, some is very small and at first glance insignificant, some is hidden, some is overshadowed by grandeur, and some is only obvious to the patient observer.  Life is full of hidden beauty which is so easily overlooked.

I am a good friend with a psychologist/author who has written many books which are very helpful.  In a recent discussion with him I told him that I thought he was an artist and I encouraged get a sketch pad and begin to sketch some trees and objects around his house.  He wondered about what help this might be.  I told him I wanted to help him to learn to see slowly.  He did and it worked wonderfully.  Suddenly things that were mundane and ordinary took on a fascination and splendour that he had not previously known.  Learning to see slowly can have a profound and positive influence on your journey through life.


Murray Phillips

May 9, 2014