The Evergreen Journal #44
The Evergreen Stairway – LOOK!
Part 2 of The Evergreen Stairway: 3 Steps
Note: The Evergreen Stairway.
Part 1 – STOP!
Part 2 – LOOK.
Part 3 – LISTEN.
I have three steps to bring awareness and redirect me in my creative life of making art and writing.
My three steps~
STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN.
LOOK ~ On Purpose
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~Albert Einstein.
In my experience as a visual artist and art professor, there are two kinds of people. Some can’t see much of anything. and those who can see clearly. This fact has nothing to do with acuity or eyesight. Instead, it is a condition of a person’s mind, body, and spirit. A person chooses to look or not to look. It’s a mindset and an attitude.
During the first couple of weeks in my college painting courses, students began to learn how to lay out a palette and begin to mix colors. I taught them about the color wheel and how it helps to know how that arrangement of colors in a particular order will help them find any color they need as they are working on a painting. We also created complex color charts that the students could use while working on images. The color chart was a great way for them to find the exact colors they needed quickly when creating a painting. Experience has taught me that people adopt the ability to LOOK very early in life. That is a topic will write more about in the future. I will just say that by the time a student arrives as a freshman in college, their ability to see has been greatly diminished over the past years of education.
While learning how to create colors, students gain skills that help them see the world all around them. Their perception changes. It was exciting to see them develop their sense of color beyond anything they knew before learning color theory. Little by little, the students would arrive at class and begin to talk about what they saw while driving to school that day – the colors of the sunrise, the shifting blues of the sky, and the shimmering shades of greens along the hillside. They often said, “Oh, I never saw this before!” When this happens, I know we are beginning to look and see the world with new vision. The students became very excited when they realized their vision of everything around them was becoming more sensitive and precise.
As painting students progress in learning the craft, they must also begin to look at various art from the distant past to the present. This is why art majors are required to take courses in Art History and studio art courses in multiple mediums. Students will often complain about the rigorous studies in color theory or learning history over the four years of studies for the BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree. But, with this intensive array of studies, students learn how to look and see.
How we LOOK at the world
Another way that the students will learn how to look and see is through drawing. It is a fact that when we look at a picture, we immediately know how that person sees the world around them.
One of the most ridiculous things I have heard many times is,
“I can’t even draw a stick person. I can’t draw anything.”
The worst part is that this person actually says this with pride like it is something to be proud of that they can’t see. Drawing is all about seeing and looking. A person who believes she can’t draw anything is a person who can’t see her own world or surroundings. Such people are utterly unaware of their ability to learn to see a world that will be new to them.
The fact is that If we can hold a pencil or drawing implement, in some way, we can put the point of the tool onto a surface and it will leave a mark. Drawing is at it’s most basic, mark-making! The youngest child knows how to make marks.
In our family, we always laugh when we talk about our daughter, Heidi and her first drawings. When she was a small girl, she learned how to make a duck shape by using the letter “S.” Soon, I found that Heidi had made “S-Ducks” on the walls of her bedroom on her bed coverings, and on the headboard of the bed. She used indelible markers for this enthusiastic burst of drawing. I remember how difficult it was to remove her drawings. I did not realize that Heidi was expressing her joy in learning how to make a drawing. Now, in her late fifties, she still makes art in her studio and sends work to clients all over the country.
Blind people who have no physical vision, can see with their insight and their imagination and they can draw. They can make marks on a page and that is what drawing is all about. A drawing is about perception. It is an inner vision and a concept. It is putting the pencil marks on a page.
Drawing is mark-making.
This year one of my blind colleagues began to take some pottery courses at her local senior center. I have witnessed her growth as a person who has no eyesight, but she has been learning additional ways to see with her hands. Her adventurous and thoughtful spirit helps her make pottery. It is thrilling to hear her talk about what she is making and the goals she is setting for the future of her pottery. In fact, she had a table at the center’s Holiday market, where she put her pottery and books on display to sell. In just a few months of intensive work, she is learning to see and look as she makes her creations. She speaks about colors, glazes, different sizes, styles, and methods of creating her pieces. Learning to see through the process of making pottery has brought new excitement and hope to her life.
When a person begins to learn how to make art, they are learning how to look not only at the materials but to experience the entire world around them in new ways. Therefore, their thoughts, speech, and insight develop a positive outlook. She is already learning that she can go beyond the techniques she is learning, and experiment to make personal discoveries on her own. It is a joy to see her pottery creations and to see how working with clay has enriched her life in so many ways.
The American Printing House for the Blind has sponsored InSights Art Exhibitions for over thirty years. Each year artists who have visual impairments or are blind can enter their art into this juried exhibition. A panel of professionals in the fine arts selects works by artists of all ages. Works are chosen for exhibition and awards are selected by the jurors in a variety of genre. Winners receive substantial award money and the museum at APH selects works to purchase from that show every year.
Take a moment
click on this link to
see blind artists with their artworks at
Artists who are in the show come from all over the country to attend the reception and awards banquet every October. The artists of all ages come to enjoy meeting their fellow artists and enjoy the artworks in the exhibition. It is a gala event. The fact that they are all visually impaired did not prevent each one of the artists from making art, participainting in exhibitions, and attending art shows.
They all know how to LOOK, even with visual disabilities.
My second step on the Evergreen Stairway is LOOK.
Simply LOOK. Take your time and really LOOK around you.
Begin by investigating just one thing in your surroundings.
What do you see?
And, now, what else do you see?
Look one more time – there is still more to SEE.
Let’s LOOK at Albert Einstein’s quote again.
What do you see now?
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein
As I worked on this article, I kept hearing a song in my mind. I think it is the perfect way to end this post.
What do you think?
Listen to Day by Day from Godspell Here
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Lynda McKinney Lambert, 2017.
First Place winner – The Dragon’s Healing Breastplate. Mixed-media fiber and beadworking
Photo by American Printing House for the Blind.
©Lynda McKinney Lambert, 2022. All rights reserved.