Absorb yourself in something else

Dare your brain to draw glass and discover how hard it is to see

One of the exercises we were given when I was learning to draw was to draw a scrunched-up piece of paper. Doesn’t sound very thrilling, does it? But that bit of paper became utterly fascinating as I worked really hard to see it properly. All the shadows and different shades of grey and white, the curves and angles and shapes of the paper, the folds and flat bits… I could feel my brain change gear as I left the wider world behind and got lost in the surprise and wonder of the tiny paper world I was studying. The drawing I made of it was not important – I have no idea how well I succeeded. The important process was looking, concentrating, trying to see it.

Try. Get a pencil and two pieces of blank white paper. Scrunch one up in your fist, and try to draw it. You have to really look hard at every detail and every tiny bit of it. It’s harder than it sounds. Don’t worry about the actual drawing – although you might surprise yourself. Just look, and look, and look till you see.

After that, try a plain glass bottle. Any bottle. Go through the same process. Try to see the shapes of the light and the reflections and the gradations of colour in the glass, and the shadow it casts. It’s hard. You’ll feel your brain tying itself in knots trying to see.

Then think about how you feel. And please tell me what happened.

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