Monday, May 24, 2010

Visit With A Genius



On Saturday, Chris and I met up with friends to attend the Da Vinci exhibit at our local MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry). I can only say I came away even more.......in awe of the man than I was before. A genius, most certainly, as well as innovative, resourceful and incredibly, insatiably curious about EVERYTHING!

I found myself wondering if he would understand our fascination with him today. I suspect not. I think he would be flattered, but what I glimpsed was more along the lines of just the way the man's mind worked. To figure something out, he sketched, took notes, studied, took more notes, made more sketches. His curiosity knew no boundaries, he gave it full rein. Something that I will allow more of in my life.

I went prepared to sketch with what I think of as necessary tools—pen, pencil, paper, paint, sketchbook, eraser, paintbrush. There were two other "tools" I should have packed as well. Patience and tolerance. Immediately after pulling out my sketchbook a woman approached and said "What are you doing?" She leaned in to see, nearly blocking my view of my subject.
 Bicycle Sketch
Ink with watercolor washes
Moleskine Sketchbook
3.5" x 5.5"

A flurry of responses flew through my mind, but in the end, I settled for a simple, "Sketching." At this, she turned and called her friend over to inform her that I was sketching. Apparently, it wasn't obvious by the pencil and sketchbook in my hands. The friend wanted to know why and what I hoped to accomplish. Again, a number of responses tumbled rapidly through my mind, ranging from downright sarcastic to feigning complete ineptitude and asking what she meant. (Experience, being the wise teacher that it is, has taught me the folly of engaging in this nonsense.)

Before any of this mischief could take hold, I responded with "I'm just hoping a little of the man's genius rubs off on me." Already bored with me, she mumbled, "Me, too," over her shoulder as she went on to the next exhibit. Take that as you will. I choose not to take it at all. At least, she didn't slam my skill level. My interactions with the public (almost) always amuse me, exasperate me, and undoubtably, confound me.

As to sketching in this environment—it was tough. There were a lot of people milling about and really, no place to stand that was out of the way and unobtrusive. Which brought the onlookers. The other thing this brought was close scrutiny from security, to make sure I meant no harm and was merely sketching. I was watched as I moved through the exhibit. No doubt they've had some trouble as there were signs everywhere of what you could and could not do.

Lastly, being with friends, I felt pressured to keep up with them, and therefore, I rushed the sketches that I did. This was totally self-inflicted as they were doing their own thing and did not seem to mind in the least. Still, in the back of my mind I felt a social obligation (also known as courtesy) to keep up. Next time, I will make arrangements to go alone for sketching, and then with friends to enjoy the interaction of the show.

If this exhibit should come to your city, I do recommend attending. It is a fascinating, but all too brief, glimpse into a truly remarkable life. I leave you with one last quote from the genius....

There are three classes of people:
Those who see.
Those who see when shown.
Those who do not see.

20 comments:

  1. ....sounds like a wonderful exhibit! I'd love to see it. Matty and I sketched at the zoo last summer, and every time someone would come up I hoped they wouldn't say something insensitive to Matty (like that crazy lady did to you at the doc's office!). We were lucky, everyone was so encouraging and nice. It does make it difficult, especially when you'd rather just melt into the background and sketch...not be in the spotlight as it always seems to happen!

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  2. Laure: Sounds like a wonderful but a bit challenging of a day. Keep at it though.

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  3. What an interesting post today! I don't get the "security" worry about your sketching. Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. I would have been too flustered having people want to see what I was doing that I would have quit. Some people are just nosy and some really want to see what you are doing and how you are doing it but the latter people would stand behind you peeking unobtrusively over your shoulder! I love this quote at the bottom of your post. I know people who learn in each of those modes.

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  5. It was a very fun evening for a host of reasons!

    Teresa, security was tight because a lot of the exhibits could be touched but were not suppose to be. One of the things I sketched was an "aerial screw," one of Da Vinci's early attempts at flight. It looked like a huge (room sized) canvas and wood screw. There were paper airplanes all over the top of it. I'm sure security just wanted to make sure I didn't decide to "autograph" or otherwise decorate the displays.

    Timaree, I don't mind if folks want to see as much. It's when they ask the obvious and then act like they've just discovered a continent, that it gets to me!

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  6. I can absolutely relate to that. I think "What are you doing" is only second to "are you painting?". I always have to fight myself not to give a stupid answer.
    The last quote reminds me of something my teacher told me, when I tried to paint the hills of Chianti. To my question when to dissolve the line with which I painted the hills from above and when from below he said: That depends, I can not tell you. Either you see it, or you don´'t." His continuing quiet definitely said: and you don't. - Ouch.
    Uschi

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  7. I'm so glad someone else feels the same way, Uschi! I almost have to bite my tongue to keep from making a really sarcastic comment!

    As to seeing....I've come to the conclusion that art is a matter of evolution and at times we see, at times we don't. We either have evolved enough or we will never see it or we are looking too hard. Definitely an evolution!

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  8. I am always drawn to someone sketching. I don't usually say anything. You see, I am a lurker even when watching someone sketch. ha..

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  9. Lurkers are fine. I don't usually say anything when someone is sketching either—because I don't wish to disturb their concentration. If I do, I always try to say something nice as we all know how difficult sketching on location is!

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  10. "I'm just hoping a little of the man's genius rubs off on me"--this is the perfect response! I tend to think most people are merely curious, but for some reason you seem to attract the critics! Remind me not to sketch in public with you :) Sounds like a great exhibit, and a good plan for future expeditions of that nature.

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  11. I agree, Kathy, they are mostly curious and I don't really think this one was a critic. Since these questions seem to be a trend, I guess I'm going to have to do a better job of packing my tolerance and patience!!

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  12. The show sounds fabulous! What an opportunity to see it.
    I'm one of those people that when seeing someone sketching (which doesn't happen very often) I try to secretly peek but never interrupt. I remember one lady who INSISTED that she had to see my sketch and then didn't say anything-which is rude in itself, she could have said she didnt like it instead of implying it. Ah, the fun times of an artist.

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  13. Teri, I had a vision of you tossing your sketchbook at the witch and clocking her with it! Sorry! I'm bad.

    Most of the time, I really don't mind. I guess it just hit on the wrong day at the wrong time. I think I need to start practicing my Jedi Mind Tricks!

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  14. Beware the next question, "How much do you get for those?" It's simply a way of turning the conversation to their aunt who is even older than you are, but never had an art lesson in her life but sells pictures as fast as she can paint them and gives all the proceeds to the Presbyterian church. Or words to that effect. Loved you Bicycle/Bicicletta.

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  15. Thanks for stopping by, Charlene! Hmm, no, I haven't had that one, but I have had the "My brother/sister/aunt/dog paints too. They're really good. They're a real artist"......many, what, exactly?!!! And do I even want to know?

    No, probably not!

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  16. That was suppose to say "meaning" not "many!!

    Darn fingers!;•)

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  17. How eloquently said Laure! I absolutely love your very interesting post! daVinci is truly one of a kind and you've portrayed a portion of his work magnificently. I don't believe your friends had a problem with you taking your time enjoying the exhibit and sketching...if they truly know you, I'm sure they wanted you to enjoy yourself in your own way and at your own pace as I'm sure they did! Great job!

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  18. Thanks for stopping by, Myra! You know, you're probably right about them enjoying things in their own way and letting me do mine....they're live and let live kind of people!

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  19. What a great opportunity! Glad you were able to attend.... seeing things in person is such a treat... especially after you've read about them and seen images in books.

    Sketching in public... brave soul that you are! ;-)

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