Power of Observation

Written By Rassouli from The Book of Creativity

The business of art is to understand Nature and to reveal her meanings to those unable to understand. It is to convey the soul of a tree rather than to produce a fruitful likeness of the tree. It is to reveal the conscience of the sea, not to portray so many foaming waves or so much blue water. The mission of art is to bring out the unfamiliar from the most familiar.
Khalil Gibran

Creative process begins with experiencing the environment imaginatively. The ability to perceive the world always in new ways is a special quality that develops artists, scientists and creative entrepreneurs. By experiencing our surroundings imaginatively, we are able to bring together what may seem like unrelated forms, ideas, and happenings to create new perceptions and solutions. Creative observation is about seeing things in a personal or uncommon manner, rather than the way others see. Creativity allows for the expansion of our collective #vision. #Observation is the outward thrust of daring to look and move beyond our closed circle of #habitual comfort.

The power that we can gain from developing our #imagination is that we become attuned to trusting our intuition. This allows us to be present to the moment and to respond in a new way to every situation, very similar to the way Nature evolves. As a result, we become inspired and enthusiastic about whatever we are doing, and we are able to bring a positive energy to it. As we #experiencejoy, the #fulfillment moves us to want to share the process with others. We find our own unique way of #expressing it and that becomes our art.

#Picasso used to sit by the sea and observe the sunrise and then walk back to his studio, which was a short distance from the shore. While walking back, the first thing that caught his eyes and attracted him often became the #inspiration for creating his next work of art. The creative power in Picasso was developed through his special way of #observing everything around him as a potential for creating another masterpiece.

Creativity relies heavily on the development of the imagination. Although we are all born to create, we need to nurture this particular attribute through the special way we observe our environmental conditions and the way we use certain techniques to reflect it in our work and in our #interpersonal relationships. Artists are those who allow their creativity to take root and flourish through their abilities and whatever is available to them. Creating something that is considered novel and innovative is the result of free play that stems from imaginative observation.

The first time I held a camera in my hand, I was six years old. The camera was a German made view camera that I received as a birthday gift from my parents. I was so excited that within the first hour, I took pictures of whatever I could see around me. They included flowers in the garden, my family members, the chicken I had as a pet and everything else that I could see as a potential photograph.

My excitement, however, did not last long. After a few weeks of taking pictures that were more and less reflecting what was around me, I became bored with the limitation of the camera and the repetitious images of the photographs. Perhaps what was causing me to lose interest was having a #preconceived idea of how things should look in my pictures. I was only taking photographs of what I could see around me, instead of bringing imagination into the use of the camera.

One day, while I was playing with my pet chicken in the garden, I felt like taking a picture of myself with my pet. Since no one was around to take the picture and the camera had no automatic shutter, I came up with an idea of a way to take it myself. I tied the shutter knob to a string and placed the camera on a chair and sat a few feet away from it, holding the tip of the string in one hand and the chicken in the other hand. I then pulled the string to move the shutter to take the picture. I must have pulled the string too hard. It caused the camera to fall off the stand, but while falling, it had taken a photograph.

When the film was developed and I received the photos, one of them was a weird picture, which showed the tail of the chicken with my hand holding it, some plants and flowers on the side, and what looked like a long pipe, which was the close up of the string tied to the camera. That picture turned out to be the one that caught lots of attention. All the other photographs looked normal, while anyone who saw that particular photo, paid more attention to it and made a remark about it. The interest that my family and friends showed to that unusual photo encouraged me to begin taking pictures of isolated parts or portions of things rather than the whole subject. It opened for me the possibilities and fascination of the observation and variation implicit in a vision.

After that experience, I became excited about photography, while I was experiencing a different way of observing my environment through the process of picture taking. Sometimes I would take a picture while jumping up in the air, other times I would lie down on the floor and look through the camera as if I were seeing through the eyes of my chicken. From that time on, I was mostly looking around for the #unusual images rather than the ones we normally #observe.

After a while, this creative vision became very natural for me and without realizing it, I began capturing moments rather than subjects. I was pulling away from focusing on a point of interest and becoming more attracted to abstract shapes and forms. Those who viewed my photographs were finding their own points of interest in them, and I enjoyed hearing their expressions of what they were #observing, which was a way that I could see through their eyes and they could see through mine.

That method of observing caused me to become attuned to seeing things in ways that made everything look more interesting to me. From then on, I was noticing certain beauty in unexpected objects, or people and places, and I was taking pictures of them and #gazing at the produced images for long periods of time. The process helped me to discover incredible patterns and forms in carpets and rugs and find beauty in the cracks on the wall and even in the shapes of water stains on the floor.

It was because of that #childhood experience that even today, when I am about to start a new painting, I stare at the surface of the #blankcanvas for a while. To enjoy the process even more, I usually have my canvases primed in black, rather than the usual white that most artists use. I continue staring, opening my vision, until I begin to discover images on the canvas. Sometimes I turn the canvas around and look at it from all different directions in search of the most attractive or interesting images. I have found this exercise quite #effective for the development of my imagination. Of course the forms that I see on the black canvas usually come alive and change into something else the moment I touch them with the first stroke of the paint brush. According to Thoreau, It's not what you look at that matters, it is what you see!

From early childhood, somehow I managed to see the world through creative eyes, which meant looking at things a little differently than the way my sister and my parents were observing. It sometimes meant seeing things in a #bizarre way and being more confrontational with my classmates. I was seeing stars in different colors, while my sister was seeing all of them yellow. I was seeing the image of a horse galloping in the sky, while my playmates were only seeing clouds.

Noticing things in new ways develops an interest in more detailed observation of the surroundings. Every time something new and unusual is perceived, it feels like a new discovery. Whatever appears before the eyes becomes attractive in a totally new way. An appreciation and a taste for certain types of images develop and a longing opens in the vision to see beauty in everything. Bringing conscious awareness to what we see and perceive creates an energy that has an effect on what is observed. It feels relational. The glance of the beloved is a phrase used by mystics, which is a metaphor for how love affects us. Sometimes the blossoming of a flower can seem to be responding to our longing for spring. It creates beauty that we relate to emotionally.

The first time I saw Rembrandt’s portrait of “An old man in military costume, I was amazed to see how the #vision of the Dutch master had created such a beauty out of an ordinary face of a not so pleasant looking old man. After that #experience, I was seeing my grandmother’s face in a completely different way! Her old and wrinkled face became an interesting and a very beautiful image to me. From then on, my eyes were opened to seeing a new depth in my surroundings. I grew to love looking into the darkness, for it allowed my imagination to enter the realm of bewilderment.

#Observation that inspires #creativity occurs when a person welcomes the mysterious vision, and appreciates the process of exploring and feeling the wonders of the hidden treasures of the unknown. A lover carries the gems and jewels following the rainbow of life’s experience to discover the treasure chest in the heart. The star that he follows leads him to the unlimited sea of the soul. David Hockney said, It is difficult to say why I decided I wanted to be an artist. Obviously, I had some facility, more than other people, but sometimes facility comes because one is more interested in looking at things, examining them, more interested in the visual world than other people are.

#Observingcreatively transitions into perceiving artistically that leads into the experience of fantasizing. Fantasy is an internal sense that is essential for expanding creativity. We all have experienced being scolded by our teachers at times, by parents and friends telling us not to fantasize. They tell us the world that we form in our imagination could lead us into trouble by developing a habit of pursuing self-gratification and self-seeking pleasures. What they don’t realize is that when our attention is focused and diffuses into the fantasy that is beyond self-gratification, the energy and power can initiate deep healing and physical comfort. In fact, imagination is actually the finer basis of our material existence, which means the images are actually an undiscovered part of us, and imagination is guiding us toward a new expression of our reality. We orient ourselves to internal and external reality through a variety of images. #Karl #Jung believed that imagination is a direct expression of the life of our own #psyche.

When we fantasize, we open to seeing new visions, which can help to transform us to become more of a visionary, who has the capability of seeing thousands of images, as possible variations of a changing reality. Each image becomes a catalyst for creating something else.

Through observation, one becomes more capable of developing a connection and a bridge between those that appear opposites of each other. Creativity can be a process of making an imaginative collage of actual experiences combined with dreaming, which serves to bring forth other possibilities from the collective unconscious or the unknown, making something totally new out of them.

To observe the environment creatively, one begins by seeing things from a different perspective than he is used to seeing. Try looking at what is around you as if you were a child seeing it for the first time. Imagine you are much smaller than you actually are and see the world as an ant might see it. Develop your power of observation by imagining what it must feel like to be a character in your favorite book. Create colors for the feelings welling up inside you. Bring them into being like giving birth to a new reality!

There is a scene in the movie Dead Poet’s Society when the teacher has students stand on top of their desks to observe the classroom from a different point of view than they are used to seeing while sitting at their desks. The teacher invites them to seize the day and make the most of it! The tension in the story comes from those who oppose this freedom and use pressure to prevent it.

The most interesting part of observing from different perspective is that it allows us to see from an opposing or different point of view of one that we have already formed and taken as our own. When we can see through the eyes of someone who holds a view that is opposite from our own, we move fearlessly into new territories with the open perception of eager excitement. We take the difference into ourselves, transform it, and become able to embrace those who might once have become our enemies.

A creative person is like a magician who is capable of creating incredible images and experiences through the ordinary world around him. We can make a rabbit appear in an empty hat, just like a magician, and we can disappear into a rabbit hole, like Alice in Wonderland. We can experience encounters with new and intriguing characters by fantasizing in a way that turns ordinary images into an inner landscape. This is creative observation that could lead to artistic expression and the thrill of mastering our creative power.
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