Sunday, September 12, 2010


 Everything beckons to us to perceive it,
murmurs at every turn 'Remember me!'
A day we passed, too busy to receive it
will unlock us all its treasury.

"Everything Beckons To Us"

"Everything beckons to us to perceive it," says Rilke — EVERYTHING — and I take his counsel seriously.  In my daily journeys, I do my best to observe not only the larger forms that dominate the landscape, but also the smaller fragments that either make up or adorn these forms.  I try to look beyond the obvious, to see the overlooked and forgotten.  I try to "see beyond what is seen," for lack of a better expression, and to become intimate with everything, including the lost, the fallen, and the degraded.  Above all, I resist the temptation to ignore things that are not easily identifiable.  In my experience, true beauty seldom lends itself to names, labels, or classifications.

In this posting, I invite you see some of the things that have crossed my visual path in recent days and to reflect upon the words of various writers, photographers, and painters on the fascinating subject of "seeing."  If you suspend your natural desire to understand what has been photographed, and focus, instead, on the texture, lines, and hues of the compositions, I think you will be reminded that nature itself is our greatest artist.

Seeing, in the finest and boldest sense, means using your senses, your intellect, and your emotions.  It means encountering your subject matter with your whole being.  It means looking beyond the labels of things and discovering the remarkable world around you.
Freeman Patterson

The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing.

Pierre Bonnard 

In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject.  The little, human detail can become a leitmotiv.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Whether he an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.

Walker Evans

If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe;  if you look at it for the 1000th time, you are in danger of seeing it for the first times.
C.K. Chesterton 

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.

Camille Pissarro

If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes.

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

Edgar Degas 

The hardest thing to see is what is in front of our eyes.


Once you really commence to see things, then you really commence to feel things.

Edward Steichen

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.


While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.

Dorothea Lange

Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual.

Edward Weston 

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

Mark Twain

The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn't indicate or promise, and which the other kind couldn't detect.

Mark Twain

The bells and stones have voices but, unless they are struck, they will not sound.


Notes on Photos:  (1) sailboat rudder and keel; (2) work boat transom; (3) sailboat keel and rudder; (4) work boat transom; (5) underside of a sailboat hull; (6) work boat transom; (7) underside of a sailboat hull; (8) work boat transom; (9) drainage marks below waterline on sailboat hull; (10) work boat transom; (11) barnacles and peeling paint on underside of sailboat hull; (12) underside of bow of sailboat; (13) work boat transom; (14) rusty chain found in boatyard; (15) section of painted window found in airport corridor; (16) dry-rotting industrial hose; (17) rusting bottom of metal chair; (18) patina of tarnished copper weather vane discovered on grounds of an antique store.  


  1. Hi, me again. I intended to tell you how much I love your photography in this post. Each one could stand alone as a piece of art. As I posted my previous comment, it said 'service unavailable' ... hope you get these comments!

  2. To Bonnie,

    I received the above-posted comments, Bonnie, but not your previous comments. Something strange is happening with Blogger. I have encountered the "service unavailable" note several tmes in the last two days.

    In any event, I'm delighted you liked the photos and, as always, I thank for the nice comments.

  3. When out and about, I try to 'see'...but I'm sure I look over many works of art like these.

  4. To Everyone,

    I just discovered something quite strange and serendipitous. The eleventh photo has been randomly placed adjacent to a mixed-media painting ("Subterranean") that I completed about five or six years ago. Look at the amazing similarities — same values, same textures, same hues, same abstract design. What is going on here? How could I create the painting out of my imagination many years ago and now unconsciously discover a similar copy on the underside of a weathered sailboat hull? The mind and its eye know secrets of which, I suspect, we are unaware.

  5. You've made an irrefutable case for seeing remarkable beauty in surprising places, George. I agree with Bonnie, that each photographic image is pleasing and gorgeous, in color composition, in texture, in pattern. But there can be no mistake that your eye, what you get in the frame, are what make unforgettable images. At first I thought they were your paintings, and I can see a similar sensibility between them. I'll let this be my spark for the start of the week, to let things be unnamed and let their voices speak.

  6. To Wanda,

    Thanks for the comments, Wanda. If this post helps you to see new things, I will be gratified. One thing that is helpful is to always take your camera with you. Just having the camera will make you begin to look around your environment for something interesting to see. You know this all too well, of course, because you do this at home all the time. That's one of the reasons you have such a lovely blog.

  7. To Ruth,

    Thanks for your lovely comments, Ruth, and, parenthetically, I'm happy that your are taking a breather today. You have been on a blog sprint this past week.

    In terms of the similarities between the photos and my paintings, read my comments "To Everyone," which is posted above. The eleventh image is randomly placed adjacent to a painting that I completed about five or six years ago. Notice the similarities of hue, value, texture, and design. What is it in my psyche that could generate a painting from my imagination and then lead me to find a similar image five years later on the bottom of a weathered sailboat? How little we know about the workings of the mind and its eye.

  8. George, those two images are doppelgängers for each other, it just gives me chills. I did not notice those two in particular when I left my comment. I just felt the same "code" was at work in you in the paintings and photographs. It's clear that something in you wants to speak, and something in the world wants to speak through you, and this synchronicity is as beautiful a connection as any I've felt in a long while.

    Yes, I was on a blog binge, and the rest is good for me and my readers I'm sure, but that is not to say I have not been working on something, which I'll post tomorrow. It is perhaps coming at your theme here from a different direction.

  9. To Ruth,

    Thanks for the additional comments. Shortly after arising this morning, I checked out Bonnie's latest posting, only to find that she had quoted a Rilke poem that I read three or four times yesterday while pondering a question about my own life. What are the chances of that happening? Now, I find this connection between a photo taken three days ago and a painting completed five or six years ago. Serendipity? Synchronicity? Who knows? Perhaps these are just reminders that everything is connected.

    I look forward to your new posting.

  10. Hi George

    I too noticed similarities in a number of your painting/image juxtapositions.

    These are vibrant textured images, #15 has to be my favourite. Its an underwater paradise, the sun shining through the water onto colourful coral...

    Happy days

  11. "If you suspend your natural desire to understand what has been photographed, and focus, instead, on the texture, lines, and hues of the compositions"
    A refreshing reminder, George. I think the main reason this desire is so strong is that we are presented with so much information in visual form and we automatically try to extract something "useful" from it instead of relaxing into it and enjoy what we see. Probably this is why I enjoy being in a natural environment. No doubt it is possible to enjoy some of these shots but I find it hard to stop telling myself that I see peeling paint on wood, is it a boat perhaps or a shed. It is so difficult to shut up and look.

  12. It is good to see rust in a completely different light, George. I think it is cutting out the surroundings that makes these photographs so beautiful.l

  13. To Delwyn,

    Thanks for the comments, and I, too, like that intense color in the fifteenth image. You are right — it does have an underwater feel to it, though it was actually taken through a painted window at an airport. I don't care about the source, however; I just love the dance of color.

  14. To Pat,

    Thanks for the nice comments, Pat. In art, as in life, composition is everything.

  15. To Tramp,

    I think you a right on point, Tramp. We are so overwhelmed by information that we have lost our ability to enjoy anything that cannot be measured, defined, and made useful. In my view, however, life was made for greater things.

    The natural world of which you speak is a great analogy. We allow ourselves to enjoy wind, birdsong, stars, and myriad other natural phenomenon without demanding to fully understand them. Why can't we do the same with art? Just allow the eye to dance with the soul and enjoy the experience.

    Another analogy that comes to mind is music. Think of representational art as music with lyrics and abstract art as music without the lyrics. Each has its own vocabulary, its own approach to the spirit. I love hearing Tony Bennett sing the lyrics of "Here's That Rainy Day," but I also love hearing Dave Brubeck play the same song without the lyrics.

    Have a nice day, Tramp. I hope your back is returning to normal.

  16. When I first viewed this post, George, three comments ago (two of which vanished into the ether) I thought the photographs were your paintings or close-ups of parts of your paintings. For example, photo #2 and you painting Angle of Repose are very similar. And your #11 and your painting 'Subterranean' are uncannily similar as you point out.

    I would suggest it is less a psychological conundrum than a mystical one. At the very least it speaks to your exquisite attunement to the life and energies around you.

    Isn't it exciting when these mysterious synchronicities appear - even more so when they are of our own hand and not just the convergence of two events.

    Are you a sailor George? Do you have a boat that you sail and care for? If so, perhaps 'the invisible embrace' of the beauty of your boat has been expressed in your art without your conscious participation. There is so much truth and knowledge to be found in expressions that do not involve the thought process. Who knows what realms await if we can move past our thinking mind.

    Thanks for the post - and for sharing your discovery. Intriguing, and a confirmation of something we all share and know, but that only occasionally makes itself so visible to the eye. I recently read the following wise recommendations: "...observe the smaller fragments...look beyond the obvious...become inimate with everything...resist the temptation to ignore things not easily identifiable..." IT WORKS!

  17. Wonderful photos and amazing quotes to go with them. Thankyou.

  18. To Bonnie,

    Thanks so much for these additional comments, Bonnie. I hadn't noticed the similarity between the second photo (following the header photo) and the painting, "Angle of Repose." That''s just amazing! Indeed, something mystical is afoot here and I don't pretend to understand it. I do relish it, however.

    The sailor point is fascinating and insightful on your part. While I no longer have a boat, I am a sailor and have owned two sailboats in my life. During the period in which I was practicing law in Washington, sailing was my weekend recreation — a reliable refuge from the noise of work life and the city. When I see a sailboat heeled and beating into the wind, I always think of one word — FREEDOM — so perhaps you're right about the unconscious connection between boats and my artistic expressions.

    Thanks again, Bonnie. I always appreciate your insights.

  19. To Gerry,

    Many thanks, Gerry, for the lovely comments. Nice to have you visiting my site.

  20. Paintings? Photographs? Compositions facilitated by eye and brain coordination, the brain 'choosing' what to 'see'? Who knows? And, in the context of your post, who cares? These are wonderful images, George - and point beyond the named and the material to the unsayable and the mystical.

  21. To Robert,

    Another synchronicity here, Robert; I was typing another comment on your blog at the very moment that your comment on my posting was received. As you say, "Who know?" One thing is for sure, however: The world is a wild and mysterious place, and the most fascinating part of it is "the unsayable and the mystical."

  22. I find so many instances of synchronicity etc in a blogworld of 'like-minded' people, George, that it just becomes the norm!

    The pursuit (which is not a pursuit as it's there all the time in front of our nose, though usually in 'unexpected places') of the mystical is... when I come to think of it (though thinking of it dilutes it)... the main focus and import of my life...

  23. To Robert,

    An interesting thought, Robert, that synchronicity becomes the norm with like-minded people in the world of blogging. It's fascinating, nonetheless. I share your "pursuit of the mystical." Those four words seem to capture everything I love in life — walking, reading, the creative process, and many other activities.

  24. What wonderful wonderful post, George. The colors are perfectly bright and pretty! Beauty in the unexpected... GREAT POST! Good quotes too.
    Wishing you a happy Monday!

  25. To Saskia,

    Thanks so much. Saskia, for your lovely and generous comments, and welcome to my site. I plan to visit your blog as well. Based upon a quick peek, it looks quite interesting. A happy Monday to you, too!

  26. I want to say "great work", George, but feel "great play" is probably more on the mark. There is not a single image here that does not lure me in. Yes, I have to do away with that natural desire you warn of, that 'need' to know what we are looking at, ¿perhaps as a way of ignoring what we are seeing? But when I do vanquish that knee-jerk reaction of looking for a label, the beauty of the images rewards the looking and seeing.

    The quotes also add very much. I particularly liked Bonnard's "The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing" and Mark Twain's observation about the imagination being out of focus.

  27. To Lorenzo,

    Thanks for the generous comments, Lorenzo. The great joy for me is in the seeing, in the discovery of some previously unknown part of the world in which I live. When I share the experience with others, the pleasure is doubled.

  28. art, writing, painting...

    Such Compositions.. you have recognized and presented them in Utter Beauty...

    ...Each piece creates a reaction

  29. To Gwen,

    Thanks for the wonderful comments, Gwen. Glad to know that you like the posting.

  30. Hi George, I came scrolling down to these photos from your Nat'l Gallery ones so my mind had a preconceived idea that I would be seeing "modern art". I looked carefully at each piece of "art" and thought - "What a creative masterpiece!" Imagine my surprise when I read the titles below the photos! Of course, I had to go back and "see" everything anew. They still looked like masterpieces to me...

  31. To Barb,

    Thanks for the interesting and thoughtful comments, Barb. As I tried to make clear in the posting, there are masterpieces of art everywhere. The key is having the patience and commitment to not only see, but to observe. You have a great eye yourself, as I can tell from the photos on your blog, so I'm sure you know what I'm tailing about. Thanks again for the comments.

  32. I keep returning to this post, sensing the saturation color brings to the eyes, into the body, amazed at the world (not separating it from the artist who, in experiencing the saturation shares it back out). I find I'm sometimes kind of particular about "art" - much as I am about literature & music: open to lots, widely varied tastes (both eclectic and average) but what I do like has a commonality of something deeply true that catches the heart (personally or the general heart of the matter). Like others, I thought these might be your paintings and that they're not reminds me of what I like about some modern art (including yours) but which is absent in much - and that's an organic development, a natural series of growth that is apparent and honest. I'm not interested so much in image for image's sake, needing to feel connection...

    rambling, but whatever

    I was thinking that it'd be nice to see all the photos together, to see how they interact and relate with one another. Would you have any objection to my using each of these to make a kind of flickr-style mosaic? I'd be happy to make it and let you post it here (rather on Temporary Reality) if you'd like (assuming I can get the program to work, since I've never made a photo mosaic before... or... maybe our clever computer-graphics wiz, Bonnie, could be convinced to give it a shot?)...

  33. To Neighbor,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments, and,no, I would not have any objection to your using these photos to create a mosaic and you are free to post it on your site if you would like to. I'm glad you feel a conntection with the photos. I know what you mean; feeling a connection with the creator is essential to me in all forms of art.

  34. was that boat dry docked in Hawaii? it looks like the boat's cousin boat that Claudia wrote about in Comfort Spiral.

    Your pictures are awesome, I like taking pictures too. Mostly because I do miss some of that magical hidden beauty upon my initial view and when I see the image from a snap-shot frozen in time they sometimes jump out of the picture

  35. To Who,

    Thanks for stopping by, Who, and I'm delighted that you liked the photos.

  36. How did I miss this magnificent post? I must have been traveling.

    Stunning, each and every one of them, and perfectly paired with each quote. I have scrolled over and over again, drinking in the colors, shapes, words. I love seeing them next to your paintings. In addition to the painting doppelganger you pointed out to us, I see similarities between your "Angle of Repose" and the orange and blue photo above the Bonnard quote. Thank you for posting these photos, they are a true inspiration.

  37. To Dutchbaby,

    Thanks, Dutchbaby, for the lovely comments. How nice it is to have someone discover an earlier posting and find something inspirational in it. Happy New Year to your and your family!