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To See or Not To See

by Keith Bond

I would like to improve upon the famous words penned by Shakespeare: "To see or not to see. That is the question." OK, so maybe it isnít an improvement. But it gets at what I consider the most fundamental skill an artist must develop if he/she is to create a believable painting from life. The ability to see is paramount and supersedes all other fundamental skills. How can I paint color relationships if I cannot see color relationships? Or values? Or edges? How can I draw accurately if I cannot see perspective or form? How can I organize or compose the underlying abstract patterns if I do not see them? Once I develop the ability to see, then it is simply a matter of accurately painting what I see. It's that simple. However, we often confuse what we see with what we know or what we think we see. It is easy to let our preconceived ideas get in the way of really seeing what is there. To illustrate this point, I will share a true experience that happened about 20 years ago. [...]

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