Thursday, March 1, 2012

Attention to Details

Hyacinths plucked on Leap Day. 

One of my most favorite scenes in Western Lit is when Will Farnaby comes to after being shipwrecked on Aldous Huxley's Island. As Will regains consciousness, he hears voices calling "Attention! Attention!" "Here and now, boys, here and now." shortly discovering that the voices are trained mynah birds freed by an old rajah to remind the Island dwellers to stay present and pay attention.

I love this scene because it describes in large part of what I do as I teach drawing and watercolor. Sure, I teach about tools and techniques, history and how to's but, fundamentally, I help students to become more attentive and aware. Crucial elements in the creative process.

I listened up when I first heard the term Inattentional Blindness some years back. Are you familiar with this? It came on the popular scene with an amusing Harvard U. study played out on the basketball court. Viewers were instructed to count the number of times a basketball is passed between players in particular color jerseys. In the midst of the passing, a person in a gorilla costume wanders across the scene. A large number of viewers never see the gorilla. See here.

In the academic realm, possible causes are ascribed. Mostly, the phenomena can be boiled down to being so distracted (by your thinking) that you miss what's right in front of you, or, quite simply, not paying full attention.

This phenomena was identified before driving while talking on cell phones or, ahem, texting while driving. Although I see it every day, the latter is something I cannot allow myself to think about too much. Really? You're texting while driving and you have children in the car?

But I digress. But not too far.

When the car is in park and the ignition is turned off, pick up a pen or a pencil and draw something. It'll do you good.

Join me for my next Online Drawing and Watercolor Course starting March 15th.

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