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August 1, 2020

Paint What You See- An Elusive Reality

Julia Andrews


Paint what you see.

"Paint what you really see, not what you think you ought to see;….. "Claude Monet

Art and our Senses

This Monet quotation has opened many previously closed doors in my thinking. Painting an image is a gateway to understanding that what you see and you think you see are often quite different. My intellect informs me that I need to make a mark in one place but on reflection, I see it is misleading. The best way to learn is by doing.

To make paintings regularly, helps me realise many things through the art of doing. The recognition of my senses ability to discern incredible details is wondrous.

We have the power to recognise things incredibly quickly. We then come to conclusions about what it is we see. Our very survival depends on our brains communicating to others what something is.
An inbuilt safety mechanism connects to our senses. The more I exercise my visual art skills, my ability to notice things that maybe I have overlooked in the past.

Bob Marley Oil on Linen

Perspective and elusive reality

The discipline of the art of painting enables me to train my senses again. Perspective is also an elusive mystery. In Brighton, there is a marvellous wind farm just off the coast. At certain times, when the light is bright, the large propellers can appear to be a hundred yards away, even though they are a few miles in the distance. On another occasion, they will appear to be much further away than they are.

Dark and light is another aspect of painting that has incredible relationships with the whole image. Colour in one place on the canvas can also alter the effect of the created image.

I am coming to realise that everything we see is a bit of an illusion. Take a large building as an example. We know that it exists brick for brick. Our mind identifies the object at lightning speed. The way the light strikes it and the mood of the day can have a dramatic effect on what we see.


Creating an image based on observing enables us to witness the subtle changes of perception that occurs from moment to moment. The process of building up this image with repeated moments of observation improve the quality of our understanding of the object.

Maybe check out the theory. Find a place that you pass every day and keep a note of what it is you are seeing. Stop and take a few seconds longer. We truly live on a planet with an incredible opportunity to experience its wonders.

Patrick Turner-Lee

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