Attention to Detail

When an artist or writer sees what to paint on canvas or with words on paper, every attention has to be given to detail. It is the smallest detail that captures the viewers eye and imagination. Is this inherent in any creative soul? Can this be taught? I can only answer for myself from my life’s experience. Imagine with me, a little girl in her mother’s office.

Was the girl in the way with her constant chatter and barrage of questions? Or was her mother seeing an opportunity for learning?

“Ruth, go outside and walk around for awhile.” Minutes later she had returned!

“What did you see?” A one word answer… “A bird.”

By now you’ve guessed I was that little girl and my mother began to question me: What color was he? Was he singing? Were there other birds nearby? Was he in a tree or flying? Did you hear any baby birds?

This same format of questioning continued for three or four more things I had seen. As the weeks went by, the number of details I had noticed began to grow. And by now, I was offering details without being questioned. I liked this game! Sometimes my mother would add paper and ask me to sketch what I had seen.

When I had learned to write, I was encouraged to make a list. If I came in with just a few things, I would need to return to see more. Often times there would be 20 things listed and I knew my mother was pleased. Many times on our way home, she would have me choose five items and we would weave those things together into a story!

Today, over 50 years later, I still love details. I look for them in nature. I see veins on a blade of grass…not just the field. I still try to find fun shapes in the clouds! I see reflections in the dew drop.

I use detail on scrapbook pages and call it embellishing. I study small photos of scrapbook pages in magazines, looking for ideas to “scrap lift” (a complement to the original creator!) I study vintage photographs to see more of history in the room. Remember the Where’s Waldo books? Now there is an artist who knew how to draw children into looking for detail!

When I write, I rewrite, change a word or two, then rewrite again! Sometimes I read out loud to see what the detail will sound like! So, dear friends…let me stop here because if I don’t, I’ll rewrite more of this post. I’m off to find more details for the next story.

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2 Responses to Attention to Detail

  1. Joan says:

    What a fantastic thing for your Mom to do. Perhaps it began as a way to engage a too active/verbal child, but what a gift! Think I might try it with a “busy” granddaughter.


    • Ruth Packard says:

      Joan, I bet she’ll love doing these activities. You could even let her scrapbook the drawings of the things she sees…or introduce a sketch pad!

      I’ve borrowed from my Mother’s outdoor assignments…except I have my pre-K class look for details in the artwork of our classroom library books. They love it!

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!!


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