There is a cup, a simple cup on the table with a single flower in it. You are holding a brush in your hand , you are looking at the flower, you are to paint it. First thing comes to mind “flower” and like a filing cabinet, in your mind you are trying to establish it's shape, definition, composition, function.....are you really seeing the flower, or it's symbol, based on your memories and experiences?
Painting from that place is difficult, as one is trying to fit the actual object to the image in the brain. The result ends up being …....just that, a description and sometimes a beautiful one, depending on the skill and experience of the artist.
So how to really see? The idea is to go beyond the mind, try to see with the whole body, using all the senses. This means to let go of the place where we are most of the time, let go of the mind, let go of the descriptions.
But what does it mean “seeing with the senses”? In my Sumi-e classes, this is what I teach to my students and remind myself every time I take the brush in my hand. You look at the object/flower....just look.....you have never seen it before....it has no name.....How does it feel? ….Oh, feel it without words....just like you are caressing it. You feel it's lush, cool yet warm texture, you feel that delicate line that holds it up.....but wait, the words are creeping in....let go. Let it take your place, let it paint for you, through you.....Do you see/feel what I mean?