to see clearly is poetry

 

John Ruskin - Rough sketches of tree growth, pen and neutral tint.

John Ruskin: Rough sketches of tree growth, pen and neutral tint.

 

Let two persons go out for a walk; the one a good sketcher, the other having no taste of the kind.  Let them go down a green lane.  There will be a great difference in the scene as perceived by the two individuals.  The one will see a lane and trees; he will perceive the trees to be green, though he will think nothing about it; he will see that the sun shines, and that it has a cheerful effect; and that’s all!  But what will the sketcher see?  His eye is accustomed to search into the cause of beauty, and penetrate the minutest parts of loveliness.  He looks up, and observes how the showery and subdivided sunshine comes sprinkled down among the gleaming leaves overhead, till the air is filled with the emerald light.  He will see here and there a bough emerging from the veil of leaves, he will see the jewel brightness of the emerald moss and the variegated and fantastic lichens, white and blue, purple and red, all mellowed and mingled into a single garment of beauty.  Then come the cavernous trunks and the twisted roots that grasp with their snake-like coils at the steep bank, whose turfy slope is inlaid with flowers of a thousand dyes.  Is not this worth seeing?  Yet if you are not a sketcher you will pass along the green lane and when you come home again, have nothing to say or to think about it, but that you went down such and such a lane.

– John Ruskin


Quoted in The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton

Image © University of Oxford – Ashmolean Museum


John Ruskin at the artisans’ gallery

seeing without shadows


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