A few years ago, on a nightingale, I signed up for a figure drawing class. I had not been taught art of any kind since high school, when I showed meager talent in my favorite medium, construction paper and Elmer’s glue. My adventures in continuing education were also undistinguished. But if I hadn’t left the course with a portfolio of realistically beautiful portraits, I would have learned that painting is not an activity reserved for artists who do well. It can be a way to observe and understand the world.
The field drafters know this well. Pairing illustrations with commentary, art with science, scene sketches are used by researchers and artists to document nature, “from waterways to winged creatures, mosses to mountains, ” Jenna Schnuer writes in The Times. In an age where we’re never more than a swipe away from a powerful camera, sketching the scene seems completely like being at home. The practice “forces you to slow down, take in things, simply look.”
This can be difficult. On vacation, darting from one sight to another, stopping and just looking without taking a picture can feel almost unnatural. Never mind sketching – who has time to sketch when our dinner reservation is at sharp 6:15?
Recently, while walking at sunset on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, lights of Manhattan against an orange sky, I observed a stream of tourists snapping the same photo. I challenged myself to observe without documentation, to have an experience, and to let my memory be the only proof that I was there. I reasoned to myself: “Memory will fade, I should take a picture of that!” I bargain: “I will catch tourists and sunset, a comment on how everyone else taking pictures while I stood away from them! “I try to stay still and just notice.
Memories fade, that’s the truth. It’s bad isn’t it? Do we need a photo for the experience to matter?
In her book “How to Do Nothing: Fighting the Attention Economy,” artist Jenny Odell writes, “Doing nothing is holding yourself back so you can realize what’s really there.” That is the promise of sketching the scene. It’s the promise of mindfulness and tech-free Saturdays and morning page. It’s about taking things without giving anything (at least not revealing to your fans and followers).
Writer Nicholas Cannariato described the benefits of careful silence in a paragraph about bird watching I come back often. “In observing the common birds in my neighborhood, there is a refreshing difference in their nature, a consistent challenge to discern what seems so ordinary to even be impossible,” he writes. noticed after many times noticing,” he wrote. Birdwatching, he concludes, is about “making the most of in the shortest amount of time.” That’s good advice for life, isn’t it? Slow down. Observe. Try to make the most of the time we have.
WEEK IN CULTURE
🍿 “Smile” (Friday): Suddenly, I was quite happy. The fall chill is finally starting to creep in here on the East Coast, and October is upon us. It’s time to take out your sweater and watch as many horror movies as you can. Maybe we should all start with the premiere of this feature film about how laughing so hard it’s scary. That is. (If you’re looking for some older horror picks, the all-important Criterion Channel streams a great selection of 80s horror classics.)
📚 “Always be honest” (Tuesday): Hua Hsu has long been a part of The New Yorker’s major critics, writing mainly about music. In this memoir, he reflects on his youth as the child of Taiwanese immigrants, his pop culture obsessions, and most touchingly his college best friend. him, who was killed in a random robbery. (To get a feel for Hsu’s voice, listen to this episode of “Popcast”, The Times music podcast, where he discusses what it means to be a collector.)
Salty fried corn
It was the last call for fresh corn in summer, and the piles of formerly green baby corn now looked a little wilted at their tips. Buy them when you can, cut the seeds and whip them up Crispy corn from Valery Lomas. Filled with scallions, cayenne, and cheddar cheese, they’re savory and perfect for a light dinner or hearty brunch. (Put them on top of a carton of yogurt or some omelets.) Leftovers hold well and these fritters are great both hot and at room temperature. If you don’t start making them right now, continue with the recipe; they are almost as good as made with frozen corn.
A selection of New York Times recipes is available to all readers. Please consider it Register to cook for full access.
Sponge Moth: These invasive insects can wreak havoc in your garden. This is doing what if you see them.
Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees, MLB: Aaron Judge is at the pinnacle of history. He’s had 60 home runs so far this season, marking the mark Babe Ruth set in 1927 and just one short of Roger Maris’ 61. Some mention that the record he is chasing is the Yankees record, or the American League record. But Judge is also chasing the steroid-free record, as every player with more than 61 home runs in a season involved performance-enhancing drugs. Regardless of whether you consider those numbers legit or not, Judge’s year is still remarkable: win three crowns. Sunday at 7 p.m. Eastern, ESPN.