“Sianan, good effort on your ‘Sunset’ painting, but like most of us your artistic eye needs developing. There was no blending of the yellows, oranges and reds of the sunset. It seems quite an idealised version of this natural phenomenon. Stop painting what you expect to see. Ms Cornel”
This was scribbled at the bottom of my assessment sheet in year 9 Art. Although I only received 70% for my ‘Sunset’ painting, the advice she gave was invaluable. “Stop painting what you expect to see”.
As I watch the sunset now from my balcony over looking Apollo Bay, I reflect on Ms Cornel’s comment. The brilliant orb of gold and tangerine sinks lower into the sky only just beginning to dip down into the horizon, painting the sky in magnificent hues of fiery red and crimson. Was I yet again seeing an ‘idealised version of this natural phenomenon’? I think too often we fail to acknowledge the extent to which our perception is influenced by what we are searching for and by what we expect to see. Given that I did not know nearly as much about perception in year 9 as I do now, Ms Cornel’s statement has only just been given it’s full meaning. Unbeknownst to us, our visual system unconsciously determines what is more or less important and subsequently chooses what to include or exclude from our surroundings(Harrison 2013). As the sun sets, the fine structure of the spatial forms around me become less so, colour washes away and depth collapses and I can’t help but wonder if I am ever really given an objective representation of the world around me.
It is such that I begin to question what I am truly ‘seeing’. The waves roll in long and white fringed. I try to follow an individual wave as it journeys and topples towards the shore. I detect that i...
... middle of paper ...
...arkness as the rods at the back of my retina are constrained.
Upon reflection, I almost wish I could go back to year 9 and challenge Ms. Conrel for her to stop seeing what she expect to sees. These expectations are so heavily ingrained that it is almost impossible to break away from these properties. In fact it is our expectations that help create our own understanding of the world around us. In a sense we are the world, because we are the ones who construct our own realities and who give meaning to the things we see and experience. I try and think of how I would paint the scene before me as the sun melts away into the horizon and the stygian darkness takes over. More importantly I wonder if it would be up to Ms. Conrel’s standards… However just like world, art is in the eye of the beholder and it is thus that each of us is free to perceive it in any way we choose.
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