Lost in the Stars

Milky Way (study)
Watercolor, 10 x 7 inches
Suzanne McDermott

Looking Out

Two weekends ago, I walked down to the beach after midnight and lay on the sand looking up into the night sky. At the height of the Perseid meteor shower, the moon was just a sliver and the night was perfectly dark. I was watching for shooting stars.

After scanning the sky for a while, I began to really see the stars. Billions and billions of stars twinkling through atmospheric disturbances. The Milky Way cut a wide swath across, illuminating with galaxies through dust and gas and dark matter. I began to perceive the depths of the universe.

The depth and the distance was unfathomable. I felt that I had never really seen the night sky before. I had little to no idea of what I was seeing but as I continued to look out, I felt myself expanding. Admitting that I seriously overuse the word awesome in everyday speech, it literally describes my experience. Awesome.

It may have helped that I'm unfamiliar with most astronomical names and configurations. I can recognize a handful of constellations and name them. I can tell planets from stars. That's about it.

Because I have little preconceived notions of astronomy, I had no intellectual hook that caught me with thinking about what I was looking at. In pure wonder, I was falling up.

I saw a few meteors, most out of the corner of my eye but, as it turns out, they were not the main event.
"When the eye wakes up to see again, it suddenly stops taking anything for granted."
—Frederick Franck
When we think we know what we're looking at, we often don't see at all.

The first steps of my drawing workshops or online courses in drawing and watercolor are all about learning how to see. When students think that they know what they're looking at as they begin to draw, they encounter the root of most problems in drawing.

The truth is that drawing teaches us how to see. Every single time I pick up a pen or pencil to draw anything, no matter how familiar with it I think I might be, I always see something new.

Seeing is not an intellectual exercise. Neither is drawing. Both are processes of discovery fueled by a willingness to be open and curious.

Preconceived notions can be comforting, a way of ordering the universe. But they also create assumptions and are at the root of prejudice. This starts with the simplest things, everyday objects.

We sort of make up our minds about things, people, places and stop really seeing them. Whether or not you practice drawing (or are thinking about picking it up again), try being open and curious. It takes some getting used to, but see what happens.

Raise Your Creative Consciousness

Learn to see better.

  • Develop your drawing and painting skills. 
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  • Yes! Absolute beginners welcome. 
  • No need for artistic talent. No online experience necessary. 
  • You receive clear instruction and encouraging support for everything. 
  • You'll develop beautiful relationships with a lovely group of students sharing and supporting your development and experience. 
  • and more... much more!

Click Here for complete course description + registration.

One more day (till midnight tonight!) for $100 tuition discount.

Fall 2013 Online Course in Drawing and Watercolor
September 12 - November 28
Last chance to work with me one-on-one in my current online format.

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