“Focus!” We hear it from teachers, coaches, bosses even spouses.
“Focus!” Put all extraneous thoughts out of your head and concentrate on the task at hand. Focus is that single-mindedness that allows us to achieve. Without it, the greatest of intentions often disappear into the mist of fanciful daydreams. Focus can be your best friend when you are vigorously attacking your to-do list. But it can be your worst enemy when it comes to creating art.
Don’t get me wrong, attention to detail is important in art, and I suppose that requires some focus, but the engine that drives the artist is creativity, and that often requires the exact opposite of focus. It requires letting your mind run free, tuning into the seemingly random, unconnected sights and sounds that inspire great art.
Often the focused, crystal clear view of the world can mask an incredible universe of beauty that emerges when we blur our vision a bit.
In Kindergarten, I remember asking my best friend Tana Klugherz if she could “look blurry-eyed” at something – and do it on command, as I could. It was such a thrill to shift the world totally out of focus – into a palette of soft colors. It turned everything into a lovely abstraction. Now I get to explore and change my view with technology and a good camera. Maybe not as fun – but still pretty magical.
On top of the page (Pic #1): a shot of a bougainvillea branch in our backyard. Nice photograph, well composed, perfectly in focus. No interpretation necessary, no imagination needed. Picture #2 (above) is almost exactly the same shot, but purposely out of focus. Suddenly the colors and shapes become ethereal, suddenly they invite — in fact demand — the viewer’s imagination.
Lose your focus — find your inner artist.