One task that stands out in my mind from high school art class and later college drawing class was making a viewfinder. We were assigned to cut a square out of the center of a piece of matboard. Thus, making a device to help one compose pictures. By using this window to frame a view one can get a sense of what should fit in a drawing and what should be left out (students are suppose to consider the edges of their pictures and the use of positive and negative space to their advantage).
I don’t remember using the device much and I don’t recall thinking it was very practical because there was no way to hit the pause button when one found a useful view. However, the idea behind the viewfinder did stick in my mind and it did make me aware of how vision involves constant movement and is unframed until we ascribe meaning to it.
Years later I wondered about other ways to find views, and I subsequently made a print that became a catalyst for finding views (see below). I mailed the print to artist friends for the purpose of collecting perspectives that could then be re-examined. I gave each artist a sample print and an extra copy. On the back of the extra copy the artist applied a view and returned the completed work to me.
Relief Print by Kip Deeds (Size: 6″ x 4 1/4″)
After receiving the cards back, I now have a collective view and examples of different ways people are viewers. Every other week I will post a result. Some artists spent hours laboring on there little card, others responded quickly, and some were never returned (this is also a kind of view). I am not disappointed about the printed viewfinders that went missing. After all, I am blessed to have two eyes and wonderful results on both rectangles and in other forms.
One of the first “views” that was returned to me in the mail was a painting by Anda Dubinskis. Anda exhibits work at Fleisher Ollman Gallery in Philadelphia and is the drawing coordinator at Drexel University.
Painting by Anda Dubinskis (Size: 4 1/4″ x 6″)
I was amazed by the image that had been returned to me. Not only does the painting have the wonderful movement of a sketch but the image seems rich in story. The figure, dressed better than that of a typical woodsman, appears swinging an ax. It is uncertain what the figure is striking at. The tree is curious because it is behind her. It is also painted in a manner that allows one to see through it (as if the tree is an illusion). All of these factors lead to a mysterious depiction and I can not help but feel empathy for this displaced character and what seems to be unresolved action.