An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of art & life ...

An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of life ... or just ramblings from the mind of a working Mum with far too little time to think!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Curiosity is Key

There is so much more to the visual world than what we see as we fly through our increasingly busy lives, bombarded by visual stimuli from every direction in the form of billboards, TV, cinema, lighted signs and a myriad of other man-made images that cross our paths each and every day.

It is sad that the majority of us miss out on so much pleasure by dismissing the ordinary in our lives and prioritizing our time so effectively that we have nothing left for simple observation.

Often it is in the ordinary that the extraordinary is found and looking at the world through the lens of a camera has forever changed the way I see.  Now, even without the camera around my neck, I find myself looking in places I never would have before.

Down at my feet, at the tiny, but intricately designed clover and dandelions that we all too often trample underfoot as we hurry across a grassy footpath on the way to a meeting.

Up above my head, at the striking architectural shapes formed by the leafless trees lining the streets in anticipation of the coming Winter ...

... or the strange, twisted shapes formed by the Mangroves surrounding and encroaching upon a wooden walkway.

Learning how to see through the lens has taught me how to look beyond the musician on the stage, and instead to see the beauty in the shape of his hand drawing the bow across the strings ...

... and it has given me a new appreciation of all that is involved in producing the spectacular colours of the sunsets we glance at and take for granted each evening.

Whilst it is impractical to stop and carefully observe everything we see on a daily basis, it is something we all need to do regularly to put our lives into perspective.

The world is such a spectacular place in all of its diversity, especially in the detail!  

We are all guilty of skating through life, looking only at the ‘big things’ that grab our attention – the magnificent blue ocean crashing onto the coastline, the stunning architecture of the ancient Colosseum or the majestic Eiffel Tower ...

... the showiness of a bed of vibrant red Canna Lillies, the visually arresting black and white stripes of a herd of African Zebra, or the spectacular sight of a Jacaranda tree in full bloom.

Very few of us look also at the detail, the minutae, and so we miss out on the many layers that can make the world look so amazingly different and that gives so much more depth, interest, inspiration, meaning and pleasure to our experiences.

Have you ever sat and really looked at a sunset … as the sun lowers ever so slowly and gently towards the horizon, making its daily journey from late afternoon … to evening … to night-time?

Have you noticed how the colours change from yellows to golds, to oranges, to reds, to purples ... all dependent upon the type and number of clouds in the sky and how much light is reflected? Have you observed how just a few moments before the sun sets, the earth’s shadow begins to rise into the atmosphere, and then as the sun sets behind the horizon, there is a faint glow that seems to exist around the edges, disappearing just before the first pin-pricks of starlight appear?

Have you ever looked closely at a flower and noticed the very fine fabric of the petals, how they look like threads woven together as in silk?

Have you held a Jacaranda blossom in your hands and looked inside the trumpet-shaped flower to see the fuzzy texture of the petals – almost like felt – and observed the pure white stamens that feather out like fibre optics at the tip, sprinkled with bright yellow pollen?

Have you noticed how the paler blue skies of Spring and early Summer seem to compliment the lilac colour of the Jacaranda blossoms so perfectly, almost as if it were planned that way?

Have you looked in detail at the humble Dandelion weed, at how each fairy-like seed is attached to the stem just enough to stay in one piece until the gentle breeze blows and the seeds are mature enough to float into the air, carrying their future with them?

The natural world is so interesting and so inspiring.  If you take the time to stop and observe with curiosity, you cannot help but be uplifted by the beauty that exists in the ordinary and you will never see the world in the same way again!

Leo Burnett, one of the great creative minds of our time, once said this about the inspiration necessary for creativity:

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.”


  1. That's why I'm irremediable curious!!

  2. I love living the small details of life. These shot are glorious and exquisite in their detail and composition.