It's a Matter of Perspective

People spend their lives searching for absolutes and objective reasoning. It’s our nature. We like everything packaged in tight little boxes sealed with a bright bow on top. Things that are too big to box like religion, politics, and morality. Sooner or later, we learn that it’s a fools quest. Black and white doesn’t exist, but only shades of gray. It’s just a matter of perspective.

Art is one of the greatest teachers of this principle. 

When I got involved in the artist community over a decade ago, I had all kinds of absolute opinions about the world, as many young men do. Despited having few life experiences, I knew how the world work, and was smarter than everyone else. Maybe this is to be expected from young people, I bet you know plenty of adults who still think this way.

The problem is that the life of an artist is a life of learning. If you know everything, you can’t learn. If you can’t learn, you can’t grow as an artist. 

This was a lesson that I learned fairly quickly. I lowered my know-it-all defenses, and allowed people and ideas into my life that I had absolute opinions about while never even experiencing them. Allowing myself to be wrong was completely painless other than swallowing that big lump of pride I’d built up.

Two people hold a paintbrush in two different ways, each believing theirs is the best and only way. Sound ridiculous? There are plenty of schools who teach that their methods are the only correct ones. Both artist can be right. How?

Perspective.

What’s right for one artist, may be completely wrong for the other thanks to that magic “P” word. Perspective is biased by all the things you’ve experienced. How you hold a brush, how you make a stroke, is all related to unique experiences you’ve had. It seems silly to say it’s wrong.

I was thinking about this when I shot this scene. From the valley, the world was shrouded in dense fog. From my perspective, the sky was blue and the fog rising from the valleys was breathtaking. How do you think our differing perspectives make us feel differently? Maybe those in the valley felt oppressed by the fog, while I was elated to witness it rise. Is it wrong for me to say that their perspective is wrong? Yes! It’s simply their honest experience that they’re expressing, not saying that what I experienced was untrue.

It’s hard for an artist to grow by placing death grip on their ideas in spite of other ideas. It’s made worse when an artist thinks their ideas are definite. You can easily substitute anyone for artist, and retain the meaning. Life is short. That’s one of the few things we can all agree on. How you spend it is up to you. I, however, will spend it learning and experiencing new people and ideas. 

By the way, interested in seeing fog rise like this from the valleys in person? There are many different scenarios when this may occur, but the most reliable for me has been to get on a mountain top on a hot day after a summer rainstorm has passed. I’ve rarely been disappointed.

Have fun!