Graham Leslie McCallum

The tree of happiness flowers and fruits most abundantly for the creative man

The Artist’s Eye – On viewing the world

To the Artist – God is Creator.

We were created to create.

Design is the search for the Mind of God in our world.

An Artist’s creativity is a form of emulatory worship of the Divine’s Creation.

Visual curiosity is a state of Intelligence.

As loneliness is the food of Poetry, so is happiness the food of Art.

Such is the burden the Artist must bare – in that in all his days, he shall never find rest for his eyes.

One of the heaviest burdens to bare in life, is to possess a heightened aesthetic sensibility.

Much of the public’s activity and method’s are an afront to the aesthetics sensibilities of the Aesthete.

The eyes see even in sleep.

To an Artist, visual attrition is akin to the hunger pangs suffered by the starving.

The main movement of artistic culture is the headlong flight from ugliness to beauty.

Creativity is akin to the activity of a bee. Like a bee one has to venture out from the comfort of the hive. It is in taking to the wing that creativity begins, and it is energised by imbibing of the creative nectars from the flowering of other’s creativity. Then, like a bee. laden with pollen and nectar, one can return to the hive to invent and create with zest, as do bees in wax and honey.

One must not deceive oneself into thinking all eyes see in a similar fashion, As hearing differs between individuals – so too vision.

Visual objectivity is improved by distance from the object.

Visual knowledge is always multi-sourced.

The eye does not see outwards but inwards.

As Artists – we need to think of our eyes more as we do our ears. For we do not look out of our eyes any more then we listen out of our ears. We need only open our eyes and the action of light entering the eyes does the work, just as sound does when entering the ears.

Drawing and Painting, like all visual activities, frees the mind to wander. One may draw while talking, and paint while listening.

All vision must be rested, and like pigeons, the eyes must come home to roost at nightfall. Thus pigeonholed they can rest, until the morning’s sunlight sets them free to fly and soar with greater and renewed vigour.

The word ‘see’ is an active word, whereas the word ‘perception’ is a passive one. So too is human sight – for one may actively look, but one can only passively perceive.

No skill, talent or creativity is meaningful – except in application.

There is no finer patina than that bestowed upon an object by its frequent and careful everyday use.

There is no line in nature, only objects with form and mass. What is mistaken as line is merely the edge of forms observed against bright light or the edge of forms viewed against contrasting colour or tone. As draughtsmen – we simply indicate form by delineation. It is an invention of men. It is a stand-in, a technique, a method to quickly indicate the dimensions and structure of form.

In figurative painting there is no line. The brush must paint as the eye sees.

In nature – the edges of objects observed are seldom crisp and sharp. More often than not the intervening atmosphere between the observer’s eye and the object viewed, distorts, refracts and blurs the edges. Knowing this and painting this phenomenon, allows an artist to give their paintings a sense of depth and dimension.

Such is human vision, that even though we may focus our sight on a scene, and even if our focus shifts around that scene, our perception is always framed by the dark and blurry circular rim that  is created by the orbits that our eyes rest in. This is the reason why we have such a strong impulse to frame our paintings and photographs.

Exquisite poise and balance is a characteristic of all great Art.

Our Imaginations fill-in for what our eyes cannot see.

The eye is a spherical and smooth form, and when bright light falls directly on a sphere, it is reflected on and off its surface. This refractive phenomenon can distort and blur what the eye sees. Our eyelashes shade our eyes from the refractive light, and when this is insufficient, we instinctively raise our hands to shield our eyes.

Spherical and rounded objects when viewed against bright light, or when bathed in sharp light, are often enveloped in that light’s incandescence , and as a consequence these forms lose their outlines and shapes. Bright light can also creep around objects thus obscuring their shapes and forms.

When the eyes look into bright light, as one would do when looking from a darkened room, through a window – a halo of glaring light falls around the periphery of one’s vision, obscuring all that falls within the glare.

The criss-crossing of shadows cast from two adjacent objects whose shadows are cast by two apposing light sources are twice as dark in their areas of confluence.

Sometimes the atmosphere perceived between the eye and what is been seen is of greater visual interest to an Artist.

The further into the distance an object is from the viewer, the greater the obscuring atmosphere, and the greater the chance that the reflected light off those objects cannot reach the eye. Eventually an object will have so much intervening atmosphere as to completely obliterate its view.

An Artist always views the world from the eye-level of one’s standing pose, and the degrees below this this point, from stooping, to sitting, to squatting, to repose. Even raising oneself through artificial means, above our standing height will give an Artist a whole new sense of perception, hitherto unknown.

Everything perceived (bar looking at the sun or looking at a light source) is merely a reflection of light off of objects through the human eye, where once again it is reflected through our retinas into our brains.

The very best of Motifs and Designs are the products of naive Primitivism.

Motif and pattern design is most truly an escape from the restraints of realism; Abstraction – an artist’s escape from natural realism; Surrealism – an artist’s escape from reality.

Artists and Craftsmen find it almost impossible to resist meddling with the world of Realism. Hence Design.

In the same way that many people use fanstasy as an escape from reality, so too is Design and Abstraction an escape from Realism.

The enemy to Realism is Abstraction.

All Art is either a flight to or a flight away from Realism.



Whatever isn’t Functional, is Redundant.

Perfect functionality is beauty.

Truly Functional is truly Beautiful.


Ugliness amplifies Beauty, even half conceived beauty. Its role should be fully appreciated – for it acts as a foil against which beauty may be observed and appreciated.

The ugly is a powerful foil against which Beauty may be observed.

Beauty only knows its heights because she rises up and out of a sea of ugliness and mediocrity.

One can only understand Beauty if one first appreciates Ugliness.

Beauty is the absence of ugliness in a single thing.

We can see and appreciate the celestial luminaries by their contrast to the dark backcloth of the heavens; so too beauty when viewed in relation to ugliness.

Beauty is an exclusivity.

There is nothing uglier than an ill-conceived execution of beauty.

Often – the clearest seeing eyes are set in the Ugliest faces.

It is only Artists who fully appreciate Ugliness.

To an Artist there is so much more to be said of Ugliness than there is of Beauty.

Ugliness may be contaminated by Beauty.

Beautiful faces quickly jade the eyes of their admirers; in contrast – animated and ugly faces are endlessly fascinating.

Asymmetric faces are more interesting than the faces of those who have symmetrical faces, for when perceived in the three quarter from left and then from right – have double the interest value.

The laws of Beauty are fixed and universal, though some may argue otherwise, saying – it differs from culture to culture, and from race to race. What they confuse is Philosophy with Beauty.

Perfect Functionality is Beauty.

Drawing in the media of pen and ink is the shortest distance between the mind and the hand of an Artist. it does not tolerate indecision and timidity.

A painting is a mirror held up to nature.

As an Artist – I know more of the Medieval mind from the works of the Stonemasons and Sculptors of the Gothic cathedrals than I have of any of the writings of Historians and Academia.

How dare we call the centuries between the 4th and 11th Centuries the ‘Dark Ages’. It is more a figment of our own dark ignorance than of any enlightened fact.

Islamic Art negates Realism and is therefore an art of Denialism. The use of arabesques and patterns are vain attempts to obfuscate and camouflage the imagery born of the God-given natural world.

The art of the Medieval and Byzantine Ages looks heavenwards. So much so that the figures of men float free of the heavy restraints of earth, and like angels – they gain spiritual and ethereal lightness at the expense of gravity and mass.

The Art Deco Style is an unusual and peculiar synthesis of straight and curved lines, shapes and forms.






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