Filtering the World

PPW #4An art teacher once said each attempt to create an experience on canvas or paper, “is imagination reaching outward to filter the world.” This is true even if one is not seeking to ‘imagine’ anything but only ‘copying’ the entrance to the building around the corner and filtering out everything else.

Here is an entrance out of context, unrelated to the noise and rush of the city, the shifting light, the passersby. Here are only lines and shapes, crevices and protrusions. The grand flourishes and ornate details circa 1900 as they appear on a six-story apartment building in Brooklyn that overlooks the park.

You will find it on Prospect Park West between 8th and 9th Street. People go in and out or walk by it, cars and bikes whizz by. Who stops to stare and marvel at Brooklyn in the Beaux Arts style? I never did until the other day, and I only live around the corner.

The art teacher also said: “Perception is not passively given us; it is a continually expanding interaction and engagement, both mental and physical, with the world… What a writer or painter undertakes in each work of art is an experiment whose hoped for outcome is an expanded knowing.”

Exactly. By following the lines and measuring them, leaving the lights and filling in the darks, familiarizing myself with details as I seek to copy what has already been created, I’ve expanded my knowledge of what was once just another apartment building around the corner. And somehow made it my building too. It’s called filtering the world, one drawing at a time.

PPW #3So I drew the one next to it too, because they’re similar and look like a pair, and take me back to a time of grand flourishes and needless decorations of the sort that Howard Roark would have loathed… But he needn’t have worried, because who looks or notices them now but an artist who happens to live around the corner…








About Nancy Wait

Nancy Wait is an artist and a memoir writer, "The Nancy Who Drew, the Memoir That Solved a Mystery," and a former actress (stage, film and TV) in the UK under the name Nancie Wait. She hosted blog talk radio shows "Art and Ascension" and "Inspirational Storytellers." Her current project is a second memoir, "The Nancy Who Drew the Way Home," due out in 2023.
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