Imaginative Seeing


(Paraphrased from Art: Images and Ideas by Laura H. Chapman)

Imaginative seeing is looking at something and imagining that it is something different. About 500 years ago, the famous Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci wrote about this way to see. He suggested that artists look at cracks in stones and imagine the lines as something else, such as a great river, a mountain range or even a person's face.

Perhaps you have looked at clouds and pretended they were animals, people or fantastic landscapes. Artists often create imaginative art in this way. They put unlike ideas - clouds and animals together.  

Imaginative perception can also help you appreciate artworks, especially art from other cultures. You should first learn why the art was created. Then you can imagine yourself living within that culture.

Nonobjective artworks often require imaginative skills to create or appreciate them.  You can appreciate nonobjective artworks if you imagine yourself as the artist, making all the decisions you see in the work.  For example, you might imagine yourself becoming fascinated with a cool, blue-gray color to capture quietness, sadness or loneliness.


Check for understanding:

Choose one of the following words and write it on drawing paper: delicate, flowing, strong, restful, sad, and lonely.  Turn your paper over and create a nonobjective drawing that goes with the word.  See if another person can tell which word you selected when they look at your drawing.