Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Some thoughts on LOOKING and SEEING

Dear Friends,

Art is often thought of as a painting or sculpture in a museum. And while this is true, it is only partially so. We tend to overlook things of beauty that surround us in our daily lives. A spider web, the bark of a tree, the surface of a rock. And beauty is not only found in nature, look closely at a screw imbedded in a piece of rusty steel, a broken windowpane, the bristles of a hardened paint brush, a segment of colorful graffiti on a concrete wall, which, by the way, tells us that art and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder and may not be considered “beautiful”.

In order to heighten one’s sense of looking and seeing try cutting a square window, about 15 cm, into a piece of sturdy paper and look through it. Hold it close or at arm’s length and look at all kinds of things around you.

You’ll be surprised how different the same object will look when viewed through the frame held up close or from a distance.

Look close up at the surface of the sidewalk, a piece of sandpaper, a weathered piece of wood

Or look at the leaves of a tree or bush.

Have you ever noticed how many shapes and sizes and colors leaves have?

Look up at a cloud. Let it drift by or move along with it.

What you see is a strange and beautiful world which you may not have been aware of.

By framing an image that way and isolating it from its usual surrounding it often takes on a different quality or meaning.

By now you understand what I am trying to express. There are so many things to look at and see differently from what we are used to.

In a museum, I like to look closely at a large masterpiece and study a very small area of brush strokes.

I am fascinated by the small world of brush strokes isolated from the painting itself. Try it sometime and you too will be amazed.

Eric Carle


  1. I'm going to do this with my kids this weekend!

  2. I remember when Edward Hopper's Nighthawks came to London... with crowds in the exhibition standing 10ft away from it...?!! Although it was a bit antisocial I just had to gently lean in from the side and have a look close up at the brush strokes (otherwise why not just go and by the poster... ...). That is the great thing about the muse d'orsay where you an get so very close to such valuable works and really SEE them!

    Sorry to hijack the comment with this but I'm so glad to have found your blog. Your work is tremendously important and influential to me. The hungry caterpillar is the first book I can recall from my childhood (such tasty pictures of food :) I don't think I'd be quite the same illustrator if it wasn't for that book! I hope you can find the time to follow this link and look at my Very hungry Caterpillar birthday tribute :) Thank you!


  3. Thank you! I think people forget that children see the world like this...up close and in detail, often without seeing the full picture. We adults need to take a moment and try to see things from their perspective.

    I can't wait to take my six year old to NYC this summer and explore the art with him!

  4. This is great. Change your perspective, change your day.

    I, for one, am going to be taking along a little paper frame with me everywhere.

  5. Oh, how true!
    Your words have made me want to get up and rush outside to enjoy the world we live in!

  6. Thank you for this tip- love it.
    I am also one of your many fans. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a childhood favourite of mine and my young children love your books too. A heart felt thank you for your work!

  7. Eric Close plays the role of “Martin Fitzgerald” in ‘Without a Trace‘ tv show.i love this tv show. today i watch without a trace tv show everyday. Martin is a special Agent in FBI’s missing persons case squad. Most of the people think that he is getting undue favors from his father who is the Deputy Director of the FBI , but in reality he is not having a great relationship with his father.

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  10. Nice Post.!!!

    Without a Trace TV Show is a wonderful show. I like it very much. Its some episodes are really amazing.

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  14. Love your post, have you seen my book for young children with real photos of wildlife to look at and observe? We share the same perspective in a very different way!

    Looking and Seeing Learning to Observe