Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Learning to Look…

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Today’s images are a collaborative effort between Colin and I. He captured the two sunrise landscapes, while I was chasing after a better spot to capture the same… and missing the perfect moment altogether.

As artists we are influenced by our physical environment, emotions and experiences. In the past I wrote about the transformation that took place when we moved from Calgary to a remote hamlet in Saskatchewan surrounded by breathtaking scenery. With every walk I discovered my natural environment and began to appreciate small seasonal changes.

A nodding thistle plant drew me in with its spiky texture and vibrant fuchsia flower head. Highly invasive as a plant and yet so beautiful to look at! Russian olive trees with silver grey foliage contrasting against lilac bushes growing wild along the road allowance provided constant visual texture from spring through fall.

Yes, this is the way I observe my environment. I assess colors, ascribe names and analyze each new vista to identify color schemes. I look for texture in the gardens, along the lake shore, on the water and ice. I identify line in the landscape, the vast prairies, ever changing sky, close up and in the distance. And as always, I look for the details: Small colored pebbles on the beach and in the water, the way the colors become vibrant with moisture. Without sounding to cliché -You get the picture…

It is one thing to observe quietly, another to talk about it with a friend. Spend time together walking or driving and verbally identify what you see. Does that make you feel nervous? Don’t worry about it – the more you use design vocabulary the more you internalize the concept. OK, let’s say you are not quite ready to share with a friend, a great way to practice your observational skills is to write about them.

Are you ready for a little challenge? Take a small note book and pen with you, and go for a short walk. Now, look around you and note every detail along the way. Write them into the notebook. When you return to the studio elaborate a little and put it on the computer or in your journal. This is for your eyes only – but it will hone not only your observational skill, it will reinforce your knowledge of the elements and principles of design.

Not up for a walk because it is icy and too cold outside? Make yourself comfortable on the living room couch and begin to look at everything in the room, including the paint on the wall and the tiny dust particle on the TV screen. Take notes and transcribe these into a short observational report. Again, this is just for your eyes. Other great places to practice your observational skills are the waiting room at your dentist or doctor, the local coffee shop, and even the interior of your car. Keep it simple and build up to the complex!

Check back on Sunday. I will “share” my winter walk to the beach as an example what one can discover in a snow covered landscape. Have fun with this design exercise!

This entry was published on December 20, 2012 at 11:07 am. It’s filed under Art, Creativity Update, Journaling, Landscape photography, Special Project and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

8 thoughts on “Learning to Look…

  1. christamarcotte on said:

    Incredible photos, Anna… Love the ribbons in the sky! Merry Christmas to you and your family!


  2. Leona Larsen on said:

    Thanks for Learning to Look item. Wish I could walk the lake banks with you at times. I have difficult time motivating friends to walk with me. Maybe the design class that the four from Saskatoon are taking will promote more togetherness for interesting ideas in the future. You know that I will be missing the class in Feb. but will have the group over for a supper after I get back and they can help me with the missed lesson.
    Relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of the next few day. Leona


  3. Beautiful photos.


    • Donna Tremblay on said:

      Best wishes for a great Christmas ! I was out walking this morning. The sky was just beautiful..pinks and light blues and everything was sparkling. I was surrounded by the diamonds in the trees and snow. I am thankful for living here and also thank you for your great blog I am learning to look up and around. Thanks!!! Best wishes for a healthy, safe and happy 2013. Donna


      • Happy Holidays to you, Donna! Yes, we are lucky to live in Saskatchewan – with the sky full of color and hoar frost that decorates the trees! Don’t you wish you could bring one of these trees into the house? No ornaments necessary!


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