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Enjoying  these vignettes is a form of making art.

What is a vignette? 

These are an equal partnership of verbal and visual images. Then you add your reactions to the combination. That’s your contribution to making the art in this form inspired by a 19th century Japanese printmaking tradition.

Art-making begins here—in tiny steps so simple you realize that you CAN do this ….

(Note: for a patient, a caregiver may have to read the words accompanying the following images, but sharing the visuals is what this is all about.)

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 Visual art usually implies that humans have in some degree selected (decided where the boundaries are) and/or manipulated a visual image. We recognize the image above in its frame as a work of art signed by the artist. Frame it and claim it.     

This image is also art: 

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and perhaps less obviously, so is this:

and perhaps less obviously, so is this:

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because the camera or smartphone  viewfinder shows us where the boundaries will lie.

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That  is exactly what a cut out frame or even our ‘finger view finder’ also does!

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As long as your eyes can see, you can make art –anywhere you are—

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as is demonstrated by this image which is the corner of a sick room where the walls and ceiling meet.

The fact that you are doing some choosing is worth thinking about. Before you even consciously start thinking about whether or not you like something, the so-called lower parts of your brain have already made decisions for you. Is this dangerous? Should I flee? Is this agreeable? When your conscious levels kick in, you may decide whether you think an image is beautiful or ugly, satisfying or not.  The collection of such choices make up what we recognize as an artist’s style.


What is your style? Your choices may indeed vary from hour to hour, day to day, depending on all sorts of physical factors. Are you tired? Hungry? Just beginning to recover from an illness or injury? Feeling depressed?   All of that matters.

Here are some images to ponder:

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fairly complex…

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or quite simple.

We react to patterns:

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and shapes...

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and lines...

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but the image comes to us with an emotional envelope whether we want it or not:


“Man, laying that rubber was raging fun.”


"That bozo nearly hit me, killed me, as I was coming home last night.” 

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What did you notice first? That may affect how you react.

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How do you feel about spiders? What if you know this is a harmless flower crab spider?


We probably have favorite colors

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but we are also influenced by  how we feel about composition

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or highly saturated color and intense contrast


- same sunset but this one is  mostly mid-tones.

Since the images above do not involve selling to a publisher or collector, exhibiting them in a gallery or seeking approval from anyone else, you can sense how silly it would be to rate one or another as ‘better’.

So once again, Frame it and claim it. That means notice when you have made pleasurable choices. That’s your claiming. Make that a habit. (“Neurons that fire together wire together”.) Noticing is a sort of art collecting. Now that you have become an art connoisseur, the more you practice that noticing/claiming of what brings you pleasure, the richer your art collection. You do not have to share this claimed image with the rest of the world to enjoy the beneficial effects of your view-finding collection. You are claiming your views (both senses of that word!) for your own collection.

A significant part of art is metaphor - further meanings - that are implied or obvious. These will vary according to personal views of the artist and the time and culture in which the art is/was made. Significance will vary according to the viewer as well. You do not have to decode what you think the artists meant as metaphor. You do not even have to ask yourself what you consciously registered, but you might enjoy pondering the metaphors in art works.


The making of art is thought to be very healing. Remember that it begins in your mind, the choice you make in your personal viewfinder. You may find that looking at a painting—someone else’s claimed view—does not seem to have the same effect as making  your own choices from the world around you.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that a rote craft is art making. You can stroke paint on a wall or knit a blanket with enough cognitive system left over to natter on about what a *&%$## jerk that other guy is, how unfair the *&%$## world is. That probably is not healing unless you are telling it to a therapist!

Back in the 19th century the Japanese poets and artists who made surimono understood that the relationship between verbal and visual images was especially interesting. The one image did not just illustrate or explain the other. They formed a partnership and the viewer/reader was an additional factor in the total effect. One plus one equals three! As with haiku, there was more implied

–in symbols, references, implications etc—which added to the enjoyment of surimono in much the same way as we get a kick out finally ‘getting’ a joke.

As you make your way through the collections of Songs of Seeing you will perhaps see them in a slightly different way now that you have considered what we are doing when we making art. Art can convey beauty but also express a range of emotions and send powerful messages. Frame it and claim it is just the beginning.

You may have asked yourself, What about making music? Isn’t that art making too?  Probably your mind does something like Choose what’s dear from what you hear.  Songs of Seeing are primarily but not entirely for visual pleasure. They are vignettes which are partly text after all, and texts have in them the abstract music of words. Words have an echoic or onomatopoeic character. Listen to the Songs of Seeing read aloud. You get to choose what you enjoy. Notice and it’s yours.

Oh, maybe that’s why they are called Songs of Seeing….  

“If I were called upon to define briefly the word Art, I should call it the reproduction of what the senses perceive in nature, seen through the veil of the soul.”

Paul Cezanne

 "Poetry is a pack-sack of invisible keepsakes."

Carl Sandburg

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