How to See with the Eyes of a Stranger – Day 82

[Today’s featured artwork for Day 82 of the 365 Days Project is by Bright Oppong-Obimpeh.]

Painting of an African Drummer by Bright Oppong-Obimpeh.
“The Talking Drummer” by Bright Oppong-Obimpeh. Photo courtesy ©Bright Oppong-Obimpeh.

As artists, we must sometimes become orphans to the world to see things as if for the very first time.

#82 – The Artist is a master observer who can see what familiarity can make us forget.

Several years ago, as I was preparing to leave my home in Montreal, Canada to return to live in the States, I was suddenly overcome by a strange uneasiness. “I feel like I’m an orphan,” I told one of my artist friends who was also a great mentor. “I’m leaving a city I love and now it seems like I don’t really belong anywhere.” I was quite distraught and wasn’t sure what to think of this.

“Bravo!” my mentor said, as she smiled and gave me a big hug. “Welcome to the world of artists!”

It wasn’t the response I was expecting. “What do you mean?” I asked.

“It means that you are now ready to learn to see with the eyes of a true artist,” she replied. “In order to create great art, you must be able to be an observer, to see all things – especially the familiar ones – as a stranger might see them.”

I was stunned, but I knew she was right.

Bright Oppong-Obimpeh is a painter from Ghana, Africa. I recently discovered his work through a mutual friend and was immediately drawn to his sense of responsibility towards maintaining his cultural heritage. “Our culture makes us who we are and it also enriches us in our creativity,” he said. “There are a lot of themes flying in the air for us to create with, if we stick to our culture. The festivals, the beliefs, the dances, the customs and the country way of life are all examples of the numerous themes that we can use in our work.”

But how does he do it? How does he live his culture and at the same time be able to effectively create from it?

Suddenly, the long-ago words of my mentor came to mind. He knows how to see with the eyes of a stranger.

Here is what Oppong-Obimpeh says about the process of artistic observation in an African marketplace for the painting at the bottom of this article, entitled Market and Fashion.

“This painting is part of my studies and research on market sellers inside the marketplace,” he said. “Though the atmosphere at the market is usually busy, the trained eye can easily observe the sellers.”

“Most of them are girls who often take time to chat or at least reflect on their own thoughts. It is during these times that one gets to notice that, irrespective of the hardships in the hot sun, they try their best to wear their best clothes to attract buyers for their products. These girls pose with strikingly aesthetic charm which, in many cases, they do without realizing.”

“Through my trained eye as an artist, I capture these moments in acrylic on canvas and invite the viewer into my world.”

Bright Oppong-Obimpeh didn’t have to leave his country to learn to see as a stranger.

Perhaps one day I will return to Canada to see it again with new eyes…

Painting of African Market and Fashion by Bright Oppong-Obimpeh
“Market and Fashion” by Bright Oppong-Obimpeh. Photo courtesy ©Bright Oppong-Obimpeh.

Bright Oppong-Obimpeh’s artwork can be viewed at: Bright Oppong-Obimpeh

Description of the images included in this post:
The Talking Drummer
Bright Oppong-Obimpeh, Ghana, West Africa
Acrylic on canvas

Market and Fashion
Bright Oppong-Obimpeh, Ghana, West Africa
Acrylic on canvas

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.

Click to view The 365 Days Project

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