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Elizabeth Watt
The Good Eye
The Elegance of Space
SEEK Photography Workshop: January 22-27

by Linda Laino

Elizabeth Watt has been capturing beauty and stillness in the form of photography for more than half of her life. Receiving a degree in photo illustration, she began her creative life as a commercial photographer. In New York City she made quite a name for herself, shooting for magazines such as Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Martha Stewart Living. Arranging objects in the form of still lives for magazine shoots helped her to begin seeing beyond an object’s obvious form and use to its essence, the development of what she calls “the good eye.” She left New York City to go “back to the woods.” The high-powered advertising world of Madison Avenue had run its course and daily walking in the woods helped her to enter the solitude of space as she pondered her next chapter.

“Thirty years ago there was more of a division between art and commerce, and those lines are more blurred now.”

This work of "commerce" seemed to begin Watt's development of what she calls "the good eye". Arranging objects in the form of still lives for magazine shoots helped her to begin seeing beyond an object's obvious form and use to its essence. To inspect the contents of Watt's studio or indeed, simply to walk through her beautiful San Miguel home, her love of the object is apparent.

“I like to collect objects. My work was always a function of that. Flower or fork, whatever, my interest is getting to the quintessence of the thing.”

Tables lined with old spoons of varying patinas, piles of river stones, shiny and smooth, bits of animal bone, bird's nests and twisting pieces of wood, it is clear that her tendency is toward objects of nature or natural materials.

“I’d had a great 25 year run with the studio in Manhattan, but I needed a change, and felt like it couldn’t sustain me anymore.”

During this time, she began to meditate on the idea of creativity and the art of “seeing”. She began to write a blog called, Create/Shift where she tackled such subjects as creativity, resilience and beauty, but particularly, how to see. As her vision became more acute, and the confines of commercial work started to fade, she began to close in on the subjects that most interested her from an artistic standpoint.

Joanna Field wrote, “I wanted to learn how to create,.....to learn how to endow the objects of the external world with a spiritual life, action that was appropriate to their nature.” Similarly, Watt speaks about transcending the obvious; “I want to create an image that speaks to something greater or reveals something that may not be seen by another eye.” Photography can transcend the object's thingness into otherness.

“The photo documents; the challenge is to take it beyond documentation into a space where you are communicating something beyond the obvious.”

When Watt moved to San Miguel after a vacation in 2014 and was about to launch her ‘Good Eye’ workshop she met here photojournalist and fellow New Yorker Andrew Sullivan. Andrew had organized the original SEEK photography workshops. They joined forces along with Mexican photographer Andres Carnalla, also now of San Miguel. The new, improved SEEK workshop was born in the belief that the Art of Seeing is a springboard to The Art of Living.

“I wasn't sure what I would pursue in San Miguel in terms of my work life. I was too young to be retired and I wanted a sense of engagement beyond my own art-making. Teaching creative process and ways to enrich our ways of seeing.”

The world is primarily here for our delight to explore and discover. Really seeing it with our whole vision by paying close attention, is the first step in understanding, dissecting and re-contextualizing its gifts.

“Sometimes it’s more about allowing, stepping back, letting go, trusting the process and paying attention to the unexpected gifts given.”

The photographs of Elizabeth Watt remind us of the vast wonder that surrounds us daily. Training our ‘good eye’ to really see those gifts will infinitely reward and sustain us.


Elizabeth Watt

*****

SEEK workshops announces
The 'Good Eye' photography workshop January 22-27
with instructor Elizabeth Watt in San Miguel de Allende.

'Head into the New Year with a fresh approach to Seeing and experiencing the world around you.

Anyone can develop a 'Good Eye' with practice. It's a muscle we can build like any other. This workshop will focus on refining your powers of perception and getting in touch with your unique visual  voice. Have you ever wondered why some photographs of the mundane—the ordinary in everyday life—resonate with
us so powerfully? What makes certain images so magical, original or illuminating? It's about actively 'seeing' as opposed to passively looking. It's about shifting our filtered, judgmental, habitual mindsets. It's about having 'fresh eyes.'

When we drop the visual clichés we see beauty all around us. We'll focus on understanding the difference between good and great photography—the aesthetic aspects of visual discernment such as composition, light and shadow, perspective, depth-of- field, color, symmetry, texture, line and curve.

Through illustrated talks, daily exercises and explorations that bring us closer to real 'seeing,' you'll learn how to refine your critical eye and take your photography to a new level.

Participants should bring their camera of choice— iPhones are fine— a journal, your ideas, and most importantly an open mind. There are no mistakes...failure is an opportunity...taking risks is applauded.

You can discover more by visiting our website:
click here
 or email us directly at seek@seekworkshops.com with any questions.

More workshops being added all the time so sign up for our newsletter to keep informed of all coming events and classes.'

Elizabeth Watt welcomes visits to her studio. Please contact her at elizabeth@elizabethwatt.com or visit her website . Locally her work can be seen in an upcoming exhibition at Interseccion Arte Contemporaneo Gallery at Fabrica de Aurora opening March 17.

**************

Linda Laino is an artist, writer and teacher living in San Miguel almost 5 years now. She loves playing with words as much as form and color. Finding beautiful things on the ground is a favorite pastime. Her artwork can be seen at www.lindalaino.com. Some of her writing can be found on Elephant Journal, The New Engagement, and Life in 10 Minutes

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