Monday, May 24, 2021

Do Artists See Differently?

In this new YouTube video, I paint a pile of firewood in watercolor and gouache. 

As I progress, I describe the mental models of visual perception that I use to help me focus on what's important at each stage. 

This leads to the question about whether artists really see the world differently or whether we're trained to focus our attention in selective ways. 

Along the way, I introduce the current scientific idea that visual perception is being driven at least as much by top-down processes as bottom-up processes.

I refer to the work of two cognitive scientists in this area: Donald Hoffman: TED Talk "Do We Really See Reality as it Is?"  and Robin Carhart-Harris (on Sean Carroll's Mindscape podcast--start at 33:00) 
Watch my YouTube video


Stephen and Nyree said...

Interesting lessons from the Ted Talk and podcast, and from your video. I was just trying to paint the lilac blossoms in my yard last night and this morning and I am struggling not to get lost in the details of the blossoms; such a similar exercise as the woodpile. I am going to try it again tonight to see if I can follow your example and find a more cohesive end result than my first two attempts. Thanks for the useful, thoughtful, and timely video!

Stephen Berry said...

I've often thought of the idea that fire is like stored sunlight being released. Not that it is "like" it, but really is the stored energy of the sun. But I never thought of a painting that way, that it's a little engine to bring us back to a point where we experience that energy from the moment we painted the image. That's lovely. There's a beat poet, Jack Spicer, who often compared the poem to a time machine. I definitely think of paintings in the same way. It falls in line with much of what you're saying too.