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Dear <<First Name>>,

Thank you for answering my survey questions from the previous teaching newsletter. (If you missed the survey and are interested in answering a few questions about learning to paint with oils, please follow this link). I am taking note of all the topics and questions you would like to have answered and I will be addressing them in subsequent teaching newsletters.

Today, I would like to cover a topic that is very influential in learning to paint in a realistic way. This topic is not often spoken about; however, in my opinion it is probably the most important factor in the way we perceive our world.  The topic I am thinking about is our sense of sight. 

It is through our sense of sight that we know our world.

Our vision helps us in two particular ways to navigate and understand the world we. First, our vision helps us discern and interpret the world by enhancing our sense of touch. We see an object and immediately realize where it is in relation to us in a space.  Even before picking the object up and holding it, we can tell by sight alone whether the object is hard and smooth, hard and rough, soft and smooth, o soft and fluffy, and so on. We can also often determine by sight alone what the object is made of. Our vision is integral in helping us navigate the world and decide how things will feel before we ever physically encounter them.

Secondly, we use vision to help us understand our world through the emotive quality that visual impressions spark in our mind and emotions. When we view a scene or landscape, we respond emotionally at a subconscious level. Vision has the power to evoke strong emotion in all of us.

The power of vision to connect us with our surroundings through a strong sense of touch and a strong emotional response is, in my opinion, the reason why representational art is so appealing and so powerful. Art that stimulates the reasoning part of our mind while simultaneously activating our emotional responses, is art that touches all aspects of what it means to be human.

Please note that when I speak of the visually realistic art I make, I call it representational. This is because when I paint, I do strive to paint what I see and interpret, but I do not strive to paint exactly what I see. Instead I am representing the world I see, feel, and wish to share with the viewer.

In my art, I strive to integrate the two ways in which we use vision.  I hope you will also think about doing so.

Thank you for your time this morning. When you are out and about today, observe your world around you, and when you do, think about the details you are seeing and also notice what you are feeling.

With warm regards,


Here are some books or sections of books I have read that have influenced my thoughts about vision and perception.

The Perception of the Visual World by James Jerome Gibson

I was inspired to search out this book by its mention in the Francis Ching’s book Design Drawing, back when I was studying for my Master’s of Architecture degree. 

This is the seminal book regarding how our mind interprets the world through our sense of sight.  An amazing and wonderful topic.  Several years ago I spent an entire day reading through this book as fast as I could at the Library of Congress.  I don’t own the book, I have only read it checked out, I would love to have it in my own library, but it is impossible to find for less than $90.  For the less beat up copies, you are looking at $300. Sigh.

Design Drawing by Francis D.K. Ching

This is one of my favorite books from my architecture days.  One little note on page 83 sent me down the rabbit hole of thinking about vision and how it influences our perception of the world.

Drawing and Perceiving by Douglas Cooper

I discovered this book while I was still practicing architecture and toying with the idea of leaving that career.  This was the first book of self-study that I used to improve my drawing skills.  I loved all the assignments in the book, and went through several of them. 

Of special note, there is an entire chapter dedicated to Gibson’s work on perception and the textural gradient.  If you are interested in studying this topic through a more hands-on approach, this is the book for you.

Thanks for your time!

And don't forget to fill out the survey if you have any questions.
Copyright © 2017 eLIZabeth Floyd Fine Art, All rights reserved.