Looks like Bill Brody has started something with his blog about foveal vision.It's really got me thinking because it's counter-intuitive. Most of what we call looking actually takes place after we have looked.
The brain joins together all of those quick glances, those foveal spot-scans into a composite idea of what is there. Forget rectangular frames and bits of paper - our field of view is broadly circular. Forget trying to make a drawing from a single look or photograph. Also, because foveal sounds like a soya based meat substitute I'm going to call foveal looking spot vision and peripheral looking edge vision.
The edge is much more interesting than the spot.
I dropped this whole confusing thing into a studio session at Colchester yesterday and the students came up with some really interesting work ! Teaching is truly amazing when you see ideas get up on their own legs because they've been invited in by a group of students. I asked them to do a life drawing where they only look with the edge of their eyes. The model moved across their field of view but their spot vision stayed in the same place. The drawings were wonderful. I only realised how difficult it was when I tried to do one of my own -
I noted two spots on an easel a metre and a half from the model and marked them on the paper, then kept my spot vision only on them to both look and draw. It's virtually impossible ! I had to keep wrestling my spot vision away from the model and even more difficult away from the drawing of the model when I looked at the paper. Also it was impossible to respect the rectangle of paper or board, which is why I started drawing on the floor.
It's quite good for teachers to be occasionally subjected to their own daft ideas.