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THE EYES HAVE IT!

By Albin Johnson

The human eye has given us the power to see but it is left up to the brain to appreciate and discriminate any visual perceptions that appear before us. Without the brain the eye is only as useful as a camera! But, maybe that's too simple an analogy.

Even as a youngster I was blessed with "some" artistic talent that I have managed to stretch into a paying career, as well as, a couple of hobbies. I will admit that some styles have eluded me such as landscape drawing but I am good at technical illustration and painting portraits of people. I suspect that is why I look at a subject's eyes first. I can't be sure what thoughts are behind these eyes but I love to guess as I ponder the finishing touch of painting them with that little daub of white added to highlight where the person is looking.

Eye color is often used to describe people. Blue eyed as in the face of a blonde beauty. There are green colored eyes as on an Irish colleen, while some folks are described as having eyes that are green with envy. There is no relation between these two observations. And then there are "those brown enticing eyes". The color yellow is sadly associated with those who are jaundiced. Black eyes are the most predominate in the world. Some are so deep that they inspire mystery and intrigue. I am very interested in the female eye as they make a variety of statements when mascara and eye shadow is added, but even the basic undoctored eye tone and shape can say more than you may want to know. There has been volumes written about Rembrandt's Mona Lisa's smile but take another look at those angelic eyes.


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Moving on, Hollywood created "eye" recognition for many of their actors. Eddie Cantor had goggled eyes, Peter Lorre had sleepy eyes. Bette Davis eyes? I am not sure what those are. Greta Garbo had fetching eyes and now we have Michael Jackson's "I love you eyes"!!!

As a little change of pace, I add this tidbit to help lighten this essay. I recall this when I was in Navy boot camp at Great Lakes. A very young recruit sailor asked his Company Commander where the term "AYE AYE" came from. The Chief coyly responded that when a recruit is spoken to by a superior he is to look first at the officer's left eye and say AYE and then quickly look to the right eye and repeat AYE. As a warning, keep in mind that Sailors often tell tall stories.

More recently, I was scanning a "Peoples" magazine at my doctor's office while waiting. I came across a picture of the current President and his wife posing in what I suspect was the official Christmas photograph as it was in front of a decorated tree. (no religious connotation intended!) I decided to tear it out and take it home to study and include it into this presentation.

I will admit I am a registered Democrat but I will vote in the general election for which I consider the most qualified. But before then, there will be many more pictures of candidates for me to study.


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This one of President Bush I would describe as pleasant but without any passion or depth. His look is almost vacant of any emotion coming from his rather close-together eyes. Do you see any uncertainty or anxiousness in these eyes? Boredom perhaps, but I can only hope there is intelligence there. Laura, on the other hand has beauty in her eyes. A bit too wide? No, there is knowing and compassion here. She is someone who is obviously devoted to her husband and yet a person who would be sympathetic toward the "common man. " Can you see any schemes or coercion in those orbs? As a side note, must it always be the woman who has compassion for others? If I were to use the kind of narrow association many important people use, I might say that people with eyes close together have a narrow view of the world while wide eyes on people suggest they have more understanding. Long ago the movie industry often used this concept in selecting actors for the early westerns.

If you ever have the chance to personally meet some political candidate, look him/her directly in the eye. (either one)

I once met Nelson Rockefeller as he was stumping for office. I noticed he looked me directly in the eye and spoke to me. I am sure all of us have passed through a reception line where the "guest" was already looking past you as they shook your hand. Of course, there may be times when you wished the: priest, preacher, or principal would hurry you along.


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About 20 years ago while unwrapping the latest issue of National Geographic, I sat stunned as I gazed on the cover picture of a young Afghan woman with incredible eyes. The early photographer did not get her name! Several years later a researcher found this woman again and photographed her as she looked to him. She gave her name as "Shebat Gula". I have included a picture that shows the original picture and another that shows how she looked several years later.


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Another picture I have included is an oil painting located in the Art Museum in San Diego, CA. The artist is called El Greco who was Spanish but born in Crete in the 1500's. His painting is referred to as "Penitent Saint Peter". When seeing it the first time I thought, there must be a God for someone to look so totally apologetic.


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The last picture I have included is of an oil painting of my wife. A couple years ago I had lost interest in painting so I tried to restart some work by copying the Impressionist known as Paul CÚzanne. I faithfully tried to duplicate several of his portraits before I tried to paint my wife Marilyn. Strangely enough, for me, her eyes are hidden. This way I suppose I can only imagine what she was thinking! There is some logic to that you know.