memories

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.

Experiencing Observation: Making Memories by Mary Jennings

My new trend in travel is to not bring anything home except a clear memory of my experience.  In that case, I better pay attention.

When packing for a holiday in an exciting destination, I briefly entertained the thought of leaving room in my suitcase to accommodate all the great purchases from my travels I will need to bring home.  Then I remember that I am on personal campaign not to bring another thing into my house.  Being a person who creates thing from things and nothing, I am on battle with clutter and stuff.  I don’t want to make my battle any harder than it already is by bringing anything else to manage.  So that leaves me with the question. How do I remember my travels.  What will I show people?

Cover of travel journal, sketchbook for Jennings trip to Europe 2012

I’ve come up with the perfect solution.  I am able to capture every minute with full color, sound and vivid memory by mentally taking in every detail I can about the whole experience through careful observation.  Talking, laughter, smells, stories, frustrations, images, history and bits and pieces that will fit into a small, almost pocket sized sketchbook is how I preserve the memory and experience of my travels.

I’m in the process of creating this now for a trip I enjoyed with my family this past Winter Break.  We went to Europe.  We visited Brussels, Belgium; London, England and Paris, France in a period from December 24, to December 30.  It was an extremely face paced trip and I am so glad I didn’t feel torn about spending my time in souvenir shops.  We all took tons of photos and thinks like tickets, labels and tags will become future art and will contribute to the finished book of observations from the entire travel experience.  It will reflect the voice and show the hand of the people who experienced it first hand.

I have done these types of sketchbooks before.  I have a video on youtube expressing how the book was created and the mindset behind it.  Since I am still in the process of creating my lovely travel journal sketchbook from Europe, I will share with you the Sketchbook Project 2012.  This documents the release of my childhood home and the transformational struggles that went with it.  At the time this blog was posted, this YouTube video has over a thousand views.

In closing, I would like to encourage the act of experiencing observation to collect information or data that will serve you in some capacity in the future.  It is certainly better than a shot glass with the British flag on it.  I’m just saying.  One (the shot glass) can be broken or lost and might be a headache (or the cause of one) to have around, the other (journal sketchbook) can be enjoyed and shared with a broad audience through generations and will inspire and encourage growth of the head and heart.

 

Note: This is part two of a six part series.  You can find part one of six here.