Experiencing Observation: Photographic / by Mary Jennings

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Have you seen my....? You can just about insert any item into the blank left at the end of the request. As a young girl, living in a messy house and now as a mother in a busy household, I am able to provide a location of pretty much any lost item. I have the opportunity to experience observation with my skills of photographic memory. I love to use these skills but would love to get paid for the workout they are getting with my sons "help me find it" requests. In this, the fifth posting about experiencing observation in different ways, I am either going to help you determine a skill you already have or help you develop a new skill. This form of almost photographic observation not only comes in handy when looking for something that is out-of-place, but it also serves as a tool to help your art become more well-rounded. It helps create an internal reference library of regular life stills. Colors, objects, arrangements, conditions and unlikely combinations are all retained for future use.

If you've seen it, you may be able to recall and use that information to add or complete a detail in your art. It makes a defining difference.

Blessing and Curse

At times, I am called upon to help a friend recall where they put their purse, or help my husband find his keys, but every now and again I am interested in recalling a certain color I might have observed in a leaf of a tree or in the shadow on the snow. These are important pieces of information that will help 'validate' a piece of art while painting. This is real information that might make or break a work of art. It might be the piece that adds real soul to your work.

The best direction that I can offer in developing the skill of photographic observation is to PAY ATTENTION. This might mean putting your smart phone or other device down *GASP*. The world is full of subtle details and they're all around you 24/7. Pay attention at all times. Take mental notes of how things are when you look at them. Make mental note of the environment and conditions surrounding the observation. Does it all make sense? If not, why? These bits of information might help complete the picture.

Project for You

I have an exercise for you to complete. For a very average part of your day, pay careful attention to every detail of your surroundings and events. Just do this for a few hours. In a notebook or sketchbook, I want you to write or draw some details that you noticed. These details aren't the ones that would stand out to everybody simply passing by, these are details that are well, detailed.

Feel free to share some of your average and not-so-average observations in the comment section below. I would love to read all about it.