The human eye has a great time absorbing our beautiful world, day after day, from first light to dark. Almost without tire, the eye patiently follows lines, and shapes; it jumps from color to patch of resonating or contrasting color; the eye effortlessly sweeps over vast vistas, taking in the the hazy colder hues in the distant hills, to the warm and vibrant saturated colors of the foreground; the eye seamlessly zoom and pan great distances whilst never losing focus. The eye loves detail, contrast, crispness and naturally, lovely curves. The eye seeks for shapes it recognizes. If the eye doesn’t know what it’s looking at, it will turn blind.
Painting is a feast for the eyes; the act of painting even more so. It sees lumps of bright colors squeezed out of tubes, mixed to softer hues, plastered onto a canvas, completely destroying the complete whiteness. Gradually these bold strokes soften and blend together. Shapes appear and tonal variation lends the perception of volume, dimension and depth. The eye is entirely beside itself with happiness. And it gets better. Detail!
Well, my eye enjoys a bit of detail. Detail adds realism and especially so when juxtaposed against rough strokes. The effect is stunning. I find that as soon as the eye knows what it’s looking at, the viewer’s brain rapidly completes the image. With the distant buildings of the city for instance, the brush strokes only need to loosely define a building and some blocks and streets and the brain sees ‘city’ but, as the definition of the objects progress, approaching realism, the eye finds itself at a banquet where it can just take it all in, without having to analyze and this frees the viewer’s brain up to engage in other layers of perception. This is when you can start seeing other images, symbols and meaning in the painting. I think for this reason we instantly see faces and other objects in rock formations and clouds, because the eye knows what it’s looking at and the brain is free to engage the imagination.