Updated: Mar 27
I don't know about you but this stay at home stuff has given me a welcome break from office surroundings.
At home, despite being confined to these four walls, I'm surrounded by paintings, my books, all of the things I love and things I’ve made.
I forget when I'm at work, just how important it is to take your eyes away from the screen, how valuable it is to look at a work of art, even if it's in a book or just that little trinket you bought when you last went on holiday.
It's all too easy to get wrapped up in the next email, the next phone call without giving your mind space to breathe and digest some of the beauty around us; a bird on the windowsill, a weed crawling through the gap in the pavement.
We rush, desperate to get things done, cramming every second with something to do.
But now I'm at home, the irregular colour of the carpet and the light that squeezes through the edge of the curtain and dances on the wall are much more intriguing to me than an email.
I’m doing the work, don’t get me wrong, but my mind is much more at ease with the soft furnishings and the colour schemes I chose.
In front of me is a watercolour painting. It's a Persian miniature of a young boy with a falcon. I think he is a prince.
I painted it about 4 years ago while studying my masters but I never got around to finishing it and I've never spent any time looking at it until now to remember it needs to be finished. Suddenly I get the urge to dig out my gold leaf and give the prince back his finery.
Appreciating visual art essentially means that you are really good at staring at things. It's not the most acceptable activity in public but we’d likely be forgiven for staring at someone’s coat if they catch us and we tell them we just loved the colour or the pattern.
Staring in an office space might give your bosses reason to question your productivity, but I say, don’t judge too quickly, that stare might lead to a wonderful memory or trigger an idea that might just be the next game changer.
But right now we are at home, we can stare at what we like, for as long as we want.
If you still think it's wrong to stare, just imagine how much staring da Vinci must have done studying the human body, or Van Gogh did while painting his scenes.
Staring is not the same as gazing. Gazing implies a loving glance, a quick peek, a naughty gander, or even a sleazy butcher’s. It’s tied to the emotion of longing, of wanting, consuming.
But a stare is something active, it’s motivated by curiosity and playfulness and it’s productive, it urges us to create, either ideas or indeed art. Of course, there’s the passive stare, the uninterested or ignorant stare, but the stare at a work of art is a love affair with the eyes; it encourages us to behold the moment, learn the lessons hidden within.
So while we have this time at home, let’s make a case for staring, at old photos, at the little drawing our child brought home from school, at the small tuft of a feather poking out from a cushion, or at that painting - the one we bought or made, but forgot to appreciate it after we stuck it on the wall.
My falconer looks back at me knowingly. He knows I probably won’t get around to finishing him, but at least I’ll spend more time with him now, even if i am just staring.