Each spring and summer I return to many of the same farms to gather images for the upcoming year's painting. Each year I look at the many of the same machines, but see them differently. From the online dictionary:
look: direct one's gaze toward someone or something or in a specified direction.Seeing involves a more active participation of the mind. Casually looking over at this John Deere tractor, I didn't think there would be anything to engage my interest.
see: perceive with the eyes; discern visually
When I walked up close to the tractor and looked more intently I began to see, almost as though I was on a treasure hunt, searching for gems hidden in plain sight, something that took more effort than a casual look. I am fascinated by this process as each year I seem to be a bystander in my eye's work; I never know what kinds of things I will find.
Because I have been painting details, seen simply and closeup, one machine can yield many different images, as the two above.
Another machine I looked at, a manure spreader, drew me because of its color and large gear wheels.
Sure enough, I think I may have found an interesting idea here.
I have clear evidence that I am seeing differently from one year to the next. This machine looked familiar, then I recognized a motif that I used last year:
The curious thing is that this grouping of pipes, though exciting to me last year, meant nothing to me yesterday. They no longer provided an "ah-hah!" moment, a compelling sense of pleasure.
Instead, I found this
and this. There are other adjustments in store: as I printed these images this morning, I made them larger than I would have last year, though still small; I felt that they needed more breathing room. Each year there are changes in my motifs, slight but real, which keep me on my toes, and happy.