Discovering Beauty in the Everyday


“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” (Confucius)

By Margaret Zabor

Some people are oblivious to beauty until they are forced to stop in front of a scarlet, salmon, and ochre sunset and look away from their phones long enough to appreciate it. Even though I make art−mostly painting and drawing−I am guilty as charged. I’m not focused solely on my phone, but I’m immersed in the routines and trivia of my days far too often, and I forget to look up or look at all. My artist friend often jokes about how residents in our continuing care retirement community typically ignore all the art work on our walls. They are too busy with their own lives, and the paintings have turned into irrelevant wallpaper for them. So, sadly, has the world for many of us.

Artists learn from each other how to observe. The artist-instructor on a website reminds me to appreciate beauty in the ordinary. In our classes, we’ve drawn a padlock, a teddy bear, a crumpled-up dish towel, a hammer, and a cupcake, for example. Each object is lovely in its own way. On another website, artists show me the extraordinary aspects of mundane buildings, kitchen equipment, furniture, and overly familiar scenes. Sometimes we find the exquisite by looking through another person’s eyes.

But everyone can become an artist with a camera. Photography is the cure for everyone who has the illness of visual unconsciousness. I heartily recommend the Life Enrichment Center’s Photography Club. It’s free to LEC members. After each field trip, we share our creations on Zoom, and we are always astonished by the diverse takes on each subject.

“I was right there, and I didn’t see that at all!” we often exclaim.

By isolating one small part of a complex subject or emphasizing the vibrant colors or using the guidelines for composition, we bring out hidden beauties. “Nice!” we congratulate each other. “Wow, that’s lovely!” “Oh, it’s so beautiful!” We help each other to see everyday things in new ways.

Look at something common through the lens of a camera, and you’ve found the marvelous. Zoom in on a detail, and you’ve uncovered the miraculous. Take time to look, and you will perceive beauty.

You can start at the club’s gallery at:

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