Thursday, April 12, 2018

Do You Really Know What A Peanut Looks Like?

Take out a piece of paper and a pencil.

Yeah, go ahead and do it.


Now, draw a peanut (the outside of an intact peanut shell).  Make it three or four times real size.

First draw the outline.

As you do this, draw the two ends.

Next draw the patterns that connect  the two ends.

There are things we see everyday without really seeing them.  When my granddaughter was here we looked at the peanut shells (she likes breaking the shells and eating the insides just as much as I do. But she takes off the skins first and I'm not so picky.)

Someone once said that once you 'know' what something is, you stop paying attention to it.  But there is always more to see, feel, hear, smell.  I once had a teacher who changed my life by saying "Intelligent people are never bored."  I eventually came to understand that meant that there was always something to observe, to think about, to consider.

I've taken some pictures of peanuts.  Tomorrow or the next day I'll put them up.  But meanwhile, draw your own peanuts to see what you already know.  Then go find some peanuts and then make new drawings.

Barbara, put your drawings up on your blog, ok. Your first 'blind' peanuts and then your observed peanuts.  You draw so beautifully.  (There are two artists named Barbara who drop by here now and then.  One's in Canada.  Maybe you can email me your pictures and I can add them.  And anyone else is, of course, welcome to do the same.)


  1. I had to do that kind of exercise when I took a drawing class a couple of years ago. We were supposed to draw a leaf as accurately as possible without looking at one. All the leaves I've looked at in my life, and it was surprisingly hard to remember anything beyond your basic generic not-any-species-at-all leaf. Embarrassing.

    Now graduate to this task, infinitely more difficult: draw a map of the US without a cheat sheet!! I did it this week for my daily art project, and even with consulting a real map, I ended up with many states out of place and strangely shaped. So embarrassed that I did it again the next day and got it better, but still embarrassing. I plan to repeat the exercise until I can get it right without the cheat sheet. Which will probably take all year.

    1. kathy, No need to be embarrassed. We have lots of things we need to pay attention. You probably know all you need to know about peanuts for practical reasons like eating them. And, of course, this post isn't about peanuts, it's about observation in general. Embarrassed implies some guilt and that's not my goal here. The intent here is not to embarrass folks, but to remind them what they already know and maybe forget now and then.

      I'm just asking folks to pay attention to little things - particularly when you have an extra moment or two, like waiting for the light to change. Instead of getting angry or bored, find out more about what's going on.

      And I'm not asking people to cram their brains with random bits of trivia. I'd argue that the more facts you have the more you start understanding the bigger picture. It's like life is a giant jigsaw puzzles and I'm asking you to pay more attention to the pieces so you eventually understand how one piece fits with another and you see that bigger picture. And this isn't aimed at you specifically because from your comments here I know you do that already.

    2. No, I think a little embarrassment is good for everybody once in a while -- especially people who consider themselves intelligent and knowledgeable. (like me, and probably like you)

      If you are better educated and better informed and more intelligent than the average bear, there's such a temptation to believe that you're right in all things. Hard to admit that you might be wrong, hard to listen to somebody arguing the other side, hard to compromise when the fight has gotten tough. So I think it's good to be confronted with evidence of your own fallibility.

      (It's even better to be able to recognize same as evidence of your own fallibility.)


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