Thanks to Beth for this posting. 
April 14th, from Roderick MacIver’s Journal 
 

The meaning of Life is to see.

– Hui Neng, 7th century sage

…the spirit of the object, if you sit long enough, will finally sneak through the back door and grab you.

– Andrew Wyeth

…A genius is one who can see. The others can often “draw” remarkably well.  It is harder to see a landscape than to paint it. This is true because there are lots of clever people who can paint anything, but, lacking the seeing power, paint nothing worthwhile.

– Robert Henri, The Art Spirit
 

In his memoir, Somerset Maugham described his writing style as one that despite many weaknesses had one great strength: 

“I was tired of trying to do what did not come easily to me.” His vocabulary was limited, his writing, he says, was without lyric quality, he had limited facility with metaphor and simile. He described himself as lacking imagination.
 
“On the other hand, I had an acute power of observation and it seemed to me that I could see a great many things other people missed. I could put down in clear terms what I saw. I had a logical sense, and if no great feeling for the richness and strangeness of words, at all events a lively appreciation of their sound. I knew that I should never write as well as I could wish, but I thought with pains I could arrive at writing as well as my natural defects allowed.”
 
Somerset Maugham from The Summing Up
 
 
Some great art — paintings, novels, music — has been created out of observing closely the common place, the ordinary. Exploring it, learning from it. The spirit of an object, as Wyeth says.
 

Listen now. When people talk listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice. When you’re in town stand outside the theatre and see how the people differ in the way they get out of taxis or motor cars. There are a thousand ways to practice. And always think of other people.

– By-Line Ernest Hemingway: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades
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