The River: Seeking to see things more clearly by Douglas Robertson

This post is part of the River of Stones guest post series, our mindful writing challenge. Properly notice one thing each day, and write it down. Click here to find out more. Our guest post series features writers talking about the art of noticing, writing and more… 
Today we’re delighted to host Douglas Robertson
Douglas writes: I’m trained to see, that’s what I do for a living.
One of the purposes of the River Of Stones project is to encourage people to pay attention, to be more aware of their surroundings and build up an awareness of the space in which they exist.
As part of this I’d like you to take a bit of time to discuss and understand how you see. 
‘What?’ I hear you say, ‘but I can already see, the man’s a fool!’
What I’d like to talk about is the difference between looking and seeing. People often look without seeing, not fully understanding the space that is around them, what makes it what it is, and how it also makes them who they are.
This sense of place is an important element of any artist or writer’s work. The colour, mood and personal connection to a particular area, and an understanding of your role in communicating this to your audience, is made so much easier if you can see it clearly.
Many writers and artists have developed this skill by understanding and seeing the spirit of one dear familiar place. Throughout history, writers, artists and musicians have strived to communicate their subject matter clearly, and we can learn so much from the makers that have preceded us.
One particular area where clarity of vision and communication with the audience is reached is in the Japanese art of the Haiku and the Haibun. One of the greatest exponents of this style of prose poem was Matsuo Basho. In his work, Basho takes his readers on a journey, using words and phrases as markers or sign posts which enable the audience to understand not only what Basho is seeing, but through using their own vision and experiences, reconstruct and see the journey in their own way.
By the careful structure and use of language, and by not ‘telling’ the reader what they see, the poet creates a world in which his abstract ideas and situations can be understood clearly by the audience. And through the use of this method, they are allowed take their own emotional and mental journey, seeing their version of Basho’s world.
So, how can we try to ‘see’ more clearly, and apply this to our own work?
Ensure clarity in words and images. Your vision of what you are trying to communicate to your audience should have little or no superfluous language. Create your journey through the work carefully, placing the markers and laying the path for your readers.
Make work about what you know. You will always find it easier to express ideas of what is familiar and close to you, and it will bring honesty to your art and vision that will make it easier for you audience to follow your journey.

I’ve worked as a visual artist for the last twenty years, and I have tried hard to ensure my vision and the art I create come together to communicate the ideas to my audience. Visitors to an exhibition, or readers of a book bring with them their own set of experiences and personal tools that they will use on the journey. I work on making my art open enough for the viewer to see their path through the concepts and ideas, and by giving them the signs and markers they need make the emotional and spiritual connections all the more poignant.
Thank you for your time, and here’s to seeing more clearly! 
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Douglas Robertson was born and brought up on the east coast of Scotland, which has had a major influence on his work. 
He travels and exhibits widely around Scotland and the UK.
His website is here.
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