Perspective Canada Day

Happy, happy Canada Day Canada. YOU are the BEST… but I only tell you this one day a year as it might go to your head.


View and purchase full resolution image here.

To be perfectly clear, this blog is about construct of perspective and it just happens to be Canada Day.

Perspective is to painting as grammar is to writing. It is useful to have some idea about the rules before you start breaking them. Both methods of organizing information have been equally tedious for me to learn except in an abstract fleeting fashion. In each case I have a tendency “to work at what I am creating until it seems right.” I usually only refer to the math of perspective or the grammar of writing when I have got myself mired and I absolutely refuse to give up. I then begrudgingly concede that I best go find out what the rules are so I can solve my problem.

Driven by combination of frustration and curiosity, I will pull out the appropriate books from my bookshelf and read what I need to read. Usually this results in a satisfying personal discovery that is far more exhilarating than warranted.

But sometimes new learning slips into my life more easily. The other day Elisa posted an excellent video comment to “Seeing and Creating” about an artist, Esref Armagan, who has no eyes and who can paint perspective using his fingertips. Esref has never “seen” a horizon line. How does he do it? I was so impressed with the link that I decided to bring it forward for a post focusing on perspective. Thank you Elisa.

And if you want to learn more about the history, science and mathematics of perspective….

“It wasn’t until the early 15th Century that a Florentine architect and engineer named Filippo Brunelleschi developed a mathematical theory of perspective through a series of optical experiments.”

Mathematics and art – perspective

The history and theory of perspective

Sprout Question: Are you remembered for your creativity in the way you want to be remembered?

Bonus: Around the middle of May this year Kathy Drue from Lake Superior Spirit blog decided to declare her dare on my blog post “Choose Your Dare”  and started a visual arts project. This morning I found the following comment on that post…

Terrill, well yesterday I realized that I needed to have those seven pages done…but couldn’t really get inspired to make a journal that would just be seen by me. So instead I made some more cards. Twelve of them. Then decided to start a “revolution”:

Thanks again for the inspiration!

I invite you to go have a look at her beautiful cards with their shiny images beaming back at us from the picnic table. Thank you Kathy for celebrating your success with us.

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Searching for lost and soft edges

When we see, we see around corners because of our rapid eye movements, our moving feet and bobbing head… and because we touch things.

Tuesday’s post “Seeing and Creating” talked about how the brain builds a visual field using rapid eye movement to create the image we are seeing. Some of the information that the brain uses to build an image comes from a history of spatial measurements that we have gathered through touch.

Seeing takes more than our eyes. We must learn spatial relationship, specifically our spatial relationship to other objects. We discover how to see where things are through practice using our hands and feet to touch and move around our world. Babies reach for our faces. Children will crawl, climb, run and jump with varying degrees of success as their brains and bodies learn to coordinate the distances of time and space. Our brain gathers and reuses these measurements in combination with information received from our eyes to provide context and relational information about what we are looking at. This complex relationship of gathering and building our visual field happens constantly and rapidly. Most often we are not even aware of the process.

However when we are creating it is helpful to understand and consider this information in our work. Some of our work in building a visual field will happen intuitively.  In fact, many situations a lot of our work in building a visual field will happen intuitively. We won’t know why we at first place a certain word in a particular sentence or why we paused the music on that particular note or why we made that particular mark off on the left side of the page or why we decided to include a particular boulder in our photograph. Mostly we just do what we do.

We can strengthen our work by increasing our conscious ability to build a visual field. A current practice of simplifying photographic images through noise reduction and sharpening and taking out what is not adding to the image is one way to play with how the visual field is built in the photograph.

Practices of adding, leaving or taking away in our creativity are not absolute creative positions but a tension we hold during the process of creating. It is in searching for lost and soft edges that I find I can most consciously building a visual field in my photography, painting and writing.

One tool or exercise we can use is to make marks or write words around your desired subject until it “appears” in your work. This helps us discover what clues or cues in the surrounding area are supporting our ability to see. In photography I do this by placing my desired object in various off-centre relationships in the frame. I change the height I take the image or the distance from the subject and so on.

Sprout Question: How do you know when less is no longer more?

Note: Here is a great reference I discovered as part of researching for today’s

The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects and Technologies by Mark Paterson (2007)

Also here is an online article that is also helpful – Eyes and Hands: The relationship between touch and space

A question I can not answer is how people without use of hands or ability to walk develop spatial relationships in building their visual field. Does anyone know the answer or have a resource?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Seeing and Creating

“Bee in salal blossom” View and purchase full resolution image here.

Yesterday, I discovered a bookmark in my memory that gave rise to a set of questions, when I came across some notes from May 16, 2007 about building the visual field that I had made in an art class taught by Glenn Howarth. The following questions arise from my musings about these notes and the use digital and photoshop tools to create images.

What is this passion we have for cleansing images of anything less than perfect?


Can it possibly damage our ability to trust our viewer to see?

Let me explain, as best I can, without taking us too far down “the science of seeing” rabbit hole. When we “see,” the brain needs to imagine most of our reality through a system of expectation. This is because the human eye has only a 15 degree visual arc of acuity or sharp high-resolution colour visual field. We commonly believe that we “see” everything as if it were in this a 15 degree visual arc called fovea vision. This is not true. Our human eye must build a visual field using rapid eye movements and short-term memory so the brain can “create” the image we “see.” Most of the rest of our visual field has about 50 percent acuity and 50 percent colour perception with the far reaches of our peripheral vision seeing only movement in black and white.

Photographs like the bumble bee in a sala blossom image above hold more information in acuity than our eye actually can see at one time without using rapid eye movement to create the image for us. You may be able to notice how you look at this image and be able to catch the eye movement between the bee and the blossom both of which are in sharp focus and then notice how you can “see” the whole picture that is in focus.

Rapid eye movement happens very quickly, at about 3 times a second, and is something we are not consciously aware of, so if you don’t notice there is a reasonable explanation.

If you want to know more, I found this youtube video “Human Senses Touch and Vision About 3 minutes in they explain and show how our eyes and brain build a visual field.

Because our brain must  “create” a sharp, coloured field of vision, it has a selection process for seeing. We fill in blanks and leave out information that history tells our brain is not relevant both consciously AND subconsciously. I am fascinated with the impact this has on our creativity whether it is visual, written or auditory. Here is a series of my quick charcoal sketches from 2007.

wooden forms for making shoes

I did these sketches while purposefully “seeing” using my sight beyond the 15 degree visual arc of acuity by paying attention to what is in my peripheral visual field allowing the hand to record the image with as little as possible interference from my fovea vision.

male nude sitting

This lesson stuck and I continue to create my work while exploring this way of “seeing” or consciously experiencing the world.


It is not too much of a stretch then, to consider that when we create an image that has high-resolution colour and sharp focus over a larger area we are doing the work of the viewer’s brain “to see” or create that image. If we go the next step and take out “irrelevant information” we are also choosing for the viewer’s brain what is important to see. Your created work has become a powerful editing filter for the viewer. To some extent this is what happens anytime we create. The question I pose is more about how much of a filter is too much filtering and can it actually interfering with the viewer’s ability “to see” what we want to express? And can we hold the viewer’s attention when we do the work of the viewer’s brain to build most their visual field when experiencing our work?

Could it be that the gaps in our expression are of as much interest to the viewer as the sharp clarity? Like say this image….

finding the figure quickly

Sprout Question: How does your way of “seeing” impact your creativity?

On Thursday, I am going to explore further how our human visual system must learn to create spatial relationship between objects through touch and memory and what ways this learning may relate to our creativity.

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Riot of Colour

Several times during the past couple of days it seems that chance, good luck or divine intervention has presented the most amazing experiences. One of these was when the sun came through our skylight and touched on a large bouquet of flowers we had on the table in the great room. The Astramaris (or Alstroemeria) were particularly stunning with their various shades and shadows of yellow and orange.

And this is my personal favourite.

View and purchase full resolution image here.

When we pay attention, there are as many moments to experience amazement as there are moments. Attention is about seeing and feeling each object for the first time. This way it is always fresh and new no matter how many times we have encountered it before. Most often we see habitually using shortcuts developed by our great memories. For example, we can walk through our house without paying attention – and trip over something new that has been placed in a room because we “didn’t see it.” We have developed a habitual way of seeing as we walk from room to room. There are many practices for paying attention. I would like to know yours.

Sprout Question: How do you break free of your habitual way of seeing?

P.S. I also had the good fortune to be at Piggott Bay as a sailing ship was taking a tour of Navy Channel – I’m pretty sure I saw a pirate but you may want to have a look for yourself…

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada