Perception

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about an art professor, whose name I cannot remember. It’s a great shame for me not to remember his name.

He made a tremendous impression on me. I can still see him and hear him in my mind. I remember how tall he was, and how his skin was weathered like the people who are happy to go out and live in the wilderness every so often. I remember one time when he joined some of us on the balcony at the end of the hallway for a smoke. He was a funny guy, with an energy that was intimidating until he relaxed.

He was an amazing, intriguing, and authentic man who had stories of life that informed everything about him.

Were any of them true? I had no reason to doubt him. I know that there’s a famous picture of him with Picasso that he showed to us, where they were hanging out on the beach. You could tell it was a younger version of him, and it was the days before Photoshop was on everyone’s desktop.

I remember what he taught us about perception.

He had us read Carlos Castaneda, for an art class. It was weird, but I think we all understood “why” by the end.

He challenged our thinking with sacred names from the tribe to which he belonged. His philosophy that has stuck with me, all these years later, was, “Draw what you see, not what you think you see.”

Drawing is a form of telling. Your responsibility is to the honesty of it.

As I look around at a lot of things in recent months, I think it’s a lesson a lot of people should take to heart. Replace “drawing” with other verbs until the statement makes sense to you.

That’s all there is today.