Monday, June 3, 2013

Soft focus

I know a woman who often doesn't wear her glasses on purpose. She admits that, "I don't necessarily want to see everything clearly." I pondered if that is denial or a form of protection but gave up trying to shuffle between the two. It is a wildly rebellious gesture in the frame of an otherwise play-by-the rules type of personage.

Do you remember half-shutting your eyes as a child and walking around with your arms out-stretched, rediscovering the known while you felt your way into the fuzz? Or even shutting them tight to let the sun burn stars onto your eyelids? We too then, weren't so desperate for everything to be utterly outlined with a thin blade of black line that can often willingly fall into "Look Here. Believe This." Maybe it is just a question of time. Now, we rush through without enough to blow smoke rings or briny bubbles, made out of all that is half-known. Lucky then--lucky then?--a keeper sweeps our steps from under our feet while we go, leaving a softer focus, a quieter show. 


  1. What a painterly post. The words are something to ponder and the photographs I will return to again and again. In one way I feel this was done just for me — in response to those questions. (You know the ones I mean!)

    I'm going back to look again ..... and again.

  2. I guess we all have our methods of self-preservation. Sometimes we need to blur the outlines. I know I do it - have started to do it more often.

  3. Yes, blurred outlines are sometimes preferred. But then, where does the practice end?

  4. I took my readers off to look at your images and no, I don't want to blur anything. Sometimes the world might seem a better place blurred along the edges until we can face reality.


  5. I think people often look at things without really seeing them.

    Good post, evocative pictures.

  6. Do you paint and draw as well? I think you should if you don't already.

  7. Heather I love this post and yes I took off my glasses. I felt the images actually have a more glowing look to them!
    I think I may paint my next piece of abstract expressionism in grisaille

    2013 Designers Series
    Art by Karena

  8. Although I am too short-sighted to go out in the street without my contacts, I never wear them at home and believe it or not, my sight in one eye has strengthened considerably and I can now see outside with a reasonable degree of sharpness. I actually like the soft blur I get on most things!

  9. As usual, great post. God, I love this blog. I too tend to look at things with intense focus and for what? We never will get the "right answer" that we're looking for, that validation that our way of thinking is the only way. Thanks for reminding me to lighten up a bit!

  10. I remember the exact moment as a child when I tried on Dad's (or my friend, Vicki's?) glasses - I was sitting on the swings at our Colerain house - and I couldn't believe that you could see every single leaf on the tree! But what I like about your post are the ideas of slowing down and, especially, a softer focus - why oh why can't I remember this in hard times/discussions? It sort of reminds me of the idea of story lines - a hard fixation on a imagined idea - better to remember the big picture and have a softer focus!

  11. Oh, Heather.....

    I used to know the painter, Andrew Wyeth (I taught summer sessions at a boarding school near Chadds Ford for ten years). He was very old then (dead, as you'll know, a couple of years ago), and I was in my twenties during those years.

    Andrew was once particularly pleased when a Japanese client had paid big bucks for a picture.....only to have hung it upside down.

    According to Andrew, that made folks see the PAINTING, not just the "picture". he was quite happy with its being hung upside down.

    I hope you'll understand why this response is not entirely a non-sequitor.....

    ----david terry

  12. So you mean the days when I can't find my glasses and haven't put my contact lens in, I am being a happy rebel and not just a klutz? There's hope yet!

    But in all seriousness, I rather like her attitude...that soft focus can reveal beautiful things.

  13. Gorgeous. I want to reach out and touch, and feel as though I can.

  14. I need glasses to drive at night and to watch television. Technically I'm supposed to wear them all the time but I don't. Once when someone asked me why I said, "because sometimes I prefer not to see". x.

    1. Exactly what my friend said! Perhaps, sharp cookies like yourself see too clearly? ;)

  15. Like Mademoiselle Coquine above, my usual modus operandi is to focus intently on the object of my attention. That is part of why the birth of her brother brought not only great joy, but significant relief, to my daughter...she was no longer the sole object of my intense parental focus. Still, I had some hard lessons to learn in how important it was to soften and lighten that focus. Now I am trying to achieve that in my work, in which the decisions I make about other people are very important to them and I have no idea where "good enough" is. Intriguing and important post, Heather, in more than one way! Leslie in Portland, Oregon


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