"Seeing with new eyes" / by Jeannine Cook

I am still immersed in drawing spring flowers and was thus thinking further about looking at things as if it were for the first time. Change the light that is shining, for instance, on a white azalea, and it instantly becomes a new entity. That is an aspect of working from real life, particularly en plein air, which makes for perpetual challenges and interest. You have to decide to "freeze" light at one stage or another and then try and keep to that consistent light play. Otherwise, your drawing or painting can become rather incoherent if you are hewing to realism. On the other hand, it also means that you can do a completely new work, a new "landscape", without moving from your chosen site.

It is not only in visual art that seeing things in an active way brings rewards. I came upon a statement Professor Alison Richard, Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University (www.cantab.org), made in a newsletter about fundraising for Cambridge's 800th Anniversary Campaign. In it, she quoted Marcel Proust saying, " the real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes but in seeing with new eyes" and celebrated that the Campaign had brought new eyes to Cambridge. Fresh appraisals of all and everything are often worthwhile - from how the US Government is run, thanks to the Obama Administration's new eyes, to an interpretation by Ian Bostridge (www.ianbostridge.com) at the Savannah Music Festival (http://www.savannahmusicfestival.org) of Schubert's songs, that I have not heard since I listened to a long-ago recital by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. If one is open and curious, new landscapes abound.

Listening to the Schubert songs, I reverted to thinking visually, seeing colours in Ian Bostridge's beautiful sounds and interpretations. Somehow, in some of the Lieder, there were effects that Sonia or Robert Delaunay would have loved to paint, I felt. A capricious thought, possibly, but one I would not have had without metaphorical "new eyes".