The Eyes Have It – The Art of Seeing

Woman, Girl, Eye, Models, Scarf, Beauty

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray. – Oscar Wilde

I often write about the importance of an artist’s or a writer’s or a thinker’s truly “seeing,” as opposed to merely looking.

Colorful, Insect, Bug, Nature, Animal, Close-Up, Macro

Even flies can look. Looking is nothing more than image recognition. Seeing is a deeper thing. It has to do with perceiving and with understanding and with the imagination and with empathy and feeling.

Some people do not seem to have the capacity to truly see. I believe that lack of seeing is an acquired thing. I also write a great deal about denial, and I am convinced that the people  who do not want to realize what they are doing and not doing for and to others train themselves not to see. You can often look into the eyes of someone who does not feel–and you will note that empty wells are where the eyes should be. On the other hand, when there is feeling within another creature, it floods from its eyes.

Dogue De Bordeaux, Puppy, Dogs, Sweet, Cute

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” – Martin Buber

I have taught art most of my life, and every time that I teach anything about faces, I repeat the quote, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.”


Red Chalk Drawing of a Boy Drawn with Ipad Pro by Jacki Kellum January 15, 2016

I tell my students to draw the eyes as quickly as possible. If the student cannot make the eyes talk, the painting or the drawing will never work.

“If there is a true measure of a person’s soul, if there is a single gauge of real divinity, of how beautifully a fellow human honors this life, has genuine spiritual fire and is full of honest love and compassion, it has to be right there, in the eyes.

The Dalai Lama’s eyes sparkle and dance with laughter and unbridled love. The Pope’s eyes are dark and glazed, bleak as obsidian marbles. Pat Robertson’s eyes are rheumy and hollow, like tiny potholes of old wax. Goldman Sachs cretins, well, they don’t use their own eyes at all; they just steal someone else’s.” – Mark Morford

“Eyes as black and as shiny as chips of obsidian stared back into his. They were eyes like black holes, letting nothing out, not even information.” – Neil Gaiman

The ability to see can also be learned, and Learning to truly see will greatly enrich a person’s being. Learning to feel about what is before you will add another dimension to who a person is. Learning to communicate about and to reflect what one feels is yet another dimension.

“…so i will greet you
in a way
all loved things
are meant to be greeted
with a tear in my heart
and a poem in my eye.” – Sanobar Khan

I have never tested the hypothesis, but I speculate that people who write from their souls have expressive eyes. They would be the people who have learned to strip away the outer bark of existence and to tap what lies deeper within. What they have discovered from deep within will be reflected in their eyes.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein

True artists and writers must learn not to become numb to life. They must learn to look for the fire that is always burning–that is always re-charging the phoenixes of emotion who would otherwise desist into ashes. After finding those buried flames, the artist learns to distil them and to share from them from their sources.

“The darkness has ink eyes, and if you stare long enough, you’re going to see it blink black. That’s the moment to start writing.” – Jarod Kintz

But the entire creative process begins with the ability to see. It begins with the eyes. The eyes have it.

©Jacki Kellum February 6, 2016

“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.” – Charlotte Brontë

Critical Eye


4 thoughts on “The Eyes Have It – The Art of Seeing

  1. Evidently, the fly sees all around at the same time without moving its head. The quotation from Wilde is stimulating. Eyes and the artist, the thinker, the spiritual ones, the wonderer. A vital reality and issue to raise. In communication classes, I’ve typically mentioned that listening is not automatic simply because we have two ears. Because the deaf often listen better than those whose ears are operational. I wonder if something like this could be said about sight. Some blind folk seem to understand visual reality with an insight many with right-functioning eyes do not. I wonder if that kind of perceiving depth is perceived in their eyes, too.

    What a fantastic subject to write about. Thank you!

    How’s the poetry class going? Are they all seeing yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You always make what I write seem more important than it is. Yes, probably having no sight is better than the use for some people who do have it. They say that youth is wasted on the young. No doubt, seeing is wasted on many who look. The poetry class. It only met once, and I was scared to turn the time over to the participants to write. I was delighted with what they did–once I finally did give them the chance. Thank you again.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s