In drawing class it was so easy to draw things as I thought they were rather than as they actually were. Getting the shape wrong, the proportions wrong, the relationship to other objects wrong.
In watercolor class it was so easy to see the colors as I thought they were. Leaves are green, for heaven’s sake. In reality they were a multitude of greens and grays and blues, and some almost black as they lay in the shadow of other leaves.
Art class showed me that I see things as I think they are rather than as they actually are. The eyes take in the reality but my brain takes the reality then makes shortcuts and ignores the complexity of the reality. I then draw what my brain “knows” rather than what my eyes see.
This made me wonder how much else of what I “know” is really just a shortcut that my brain made to avoid complexity. How much of what I “know” – about the world, about economics, about politics, about relationships, about people, about possibilities and impossibilities – is really just shortcuts created by my brain to avoid dealing with the difficult complexities of reality?
How much of what I fear – making a fool of myself, failing in some way, doing some house project – is just my brain taking a shortcut to avoid reality?
Art forces me to recognize the disconnect between reality and what I “know” because I can see that my artwork bears little relationship to the thing I’m drawing or painting. The output doesn’t match the input. With skill and dedicated practice I can bring the two closer together.
But other aspects of life rarely have an output that I can compare to reality, so I’m rarely faced with the disconnect. And so I don’t know where I have a disconnect. I don’t know what skill or what dedicated practice will bring my “knowledge” closer to reality.
How do I solve this? How do you solve this?