Posted by: Catherine Weston | March 6, 2009

Having a good look

Table Mountain from the north at sunset

Table Mountain from the north at sunset

Yesterday evening I was standing in front of an easel, charcoal in hand, attempting to render the human form on paper. The art school where I am taking my life drawing classes is in a well-heeled suburb of Cape Town about half an hour’s drive away. After all, if Richard can improve his skills on the golf course, I can improve my drawing skills. (This comes under the ‘relaxation’ section of our Big Five, see earlier post!)

In my limited experience as an artist, the challenge of drawing the human form accurately has always had an attraction for me and I am enjoying ‘getting my eye in’ for the first time in many years. In doing so it struck me that there are parallels between the drawing student and the Bible student (another Big Five goal, you’ll remember). It is all too easy to put down what you already think you know (eyes at the top of the head) without taking time to see what’s actually there (eyes near the top of the face, half way down the head). The key is to look: look without preconceptions of anatomy; look at the angles, shapes and relative positions of that knee, shoulder or wrist as they appear in the space in front of me; to look more at the model than at my drawing on paper; to look until I really see what is actually there.

The same is true of the Bible. It‘s really easy, especially if we’ve been a Christian for a long time, to think we know what is in the Bible. We might bring our preconceived ideas based on half remembered Sunday school lessons or a popular author we read in our teens. Most of all, as we’ve discovered over many years of working with other nationalities, we bring preconceived ideas based on our own world view and culture (in our case, Western culture). We forget to read the Bible slowly looking to see what is actually there. That’s why we have deliberately chosen two of our courses to get us reading the Bible carefully. I had never noticed, for example, the little word ‘we’ in Genesis 22:5. Check it out for yourself.

Someone else has been doing a lot of looking … through his camera lens. The picture above is just one sample!

Random language notes: remember the word vuvuzela? (= A plastic horn for blowing at football matches). Since writing about it last week I have discovered it is a Zulu word which means literally ‘sprinkle’, as in sprinkling salt on your food. So, if I’ve understood it correctly, in blowing the horn you ‘sprinkle’ the spirit of football/your team. Maybe in English we would talk about spreading it abroad. There’s nothing like learning another language for getting inside thought patterns of a different culture.



  1. Hi Richard and Catherine,

    Good to read your travel blog! I love the photo at the top. It reminds me of my childhood, living near Blouwbergstrand, looking at the Table Mountain…
    We are thinking of you!
    God bless your time in South Africa.
    With love, Sabine and Graham

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