Open Eyes / by Jeannine Cook

I marvel constantly at the wisdom and insights that I stumble across on the Web. Following a thread on my passion, drawing, I found this observation from the artist, Timothy Nero. He said, "Drawing keep the eye fresh, the mind alive, and intuition nimble."

Every draughtsman knows instantly what he means. As you draw, you find you see things differently, more intimately, with more awareness of space, connectivity and light. Your mind works more alertly, even on a subconscious level, and your senses are honed and more tuned. The act of drawing is a very complex, alive-making affair and things happen in the drawing that you cannot foresee as the artist.

Interestingly, Marc Wilson, Director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, made a parallel observation about viewing art in an interview reported today by Tyler Green on his Modern Art Notes blog. Mr. Wilson was talking about the galleries in his Bloch Building addition to the Museum and how art is presented there to the public. He said, " I'm not trying to teach you art history. I'm trying to open your eyes, your own senses and your own intelligence to what's in those works of art. That's the first step..."

What art involves, whether in the making or the viewing, is basically, I would venture, a good dose of curiosity and having the willingness to open yourself up to new experiences and insights. It is a way of seeing and understanding another person's viewpoint, another version of reality or imagined "reality". In an era when open-mindedness is in short supply in many domains of society, it is to be celebrated that art has still the ability to break down barriers, inhibitions and prejudices. This situation does, however, imply quite a responsibility for each artist somehow to be the provider of keys to unlock doors to different, perhaps new experiences. Perhaps it is lucky that most artists are almost impelled to draw and paint, whether or not their results have this effect. Each of us, as artists, just needs that special feeling of being really alive as we work.