Have you ever traveled to a new place and felt a heightened state of awareness, because so many sights, sounds and sensations felt unfamiliar to you?
Maybe you heard a different language that sounded strange to your ears. Maybe the air felt more humid on your skin and hair. Maybe the colors of the earth, plants and landscape looked novel to you, so different from the terrain of your homeland. Maybe you felt awed or inspired as you experienced these changes.
When we experience the new and unfamiliar, our senses intensify.
We become alert and pay more attention. We notice the little things. We feel more alive.
Many of us don't realize that we can experience this heightened state of perception in our own familiar territory too, simply by awakening our curiosity.
Artists are able to tap into this state, by staying sensitive to the subtle changes that are constantly occurring.
The great Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, painted the same subjects again and again--haystacks in a field, a lily pond, the facade of a cathedral--and each time he saw something new.
The key is to pay attention.
Drawing is a method to delve into this state of deep observation and attention.
Beginner drawing students quickly become engrossed in the most ordinary objects, such as an apple. The ordinary apple becomes a landscape of shape, color, shadow, light and texture. Perceiving the apple on this higher level becomes a fascinating exercise. "I'm falling in love with this apple!" a student recently said to me in class.
This is the way of the artist: observing, studying, seeing deeply, and through this practice, appreciating and accepting the beautiful, unique, and endlessly changing scene unfolding before our eyes.
Anyone can do this.
All it takes is the willingness to be present, pay attention, and immerse yourself fully in each moment.