Focal Play

Just back from a relaxing family holiday in Italy. Great weather and the food was even better. In a fit of health-conscious worry, I decided one morning to go for a run and jogged up a track to the top of a mountain (this is not as impressive as it sounds due to our original location which was quite  a way up anyway!). On the track I stopped at one point and was able to see across and through the pines to the far mountain - amazing views all around. I noticed a cluster of pine branches that traced a spindly drawing against the sky in a 'window' of blue. The bottom of the branch described a fat 'j' shape with a cone adding a top dot to it. Other thinner twigs criss-crossed their way across the vertical of the j branch and the effect was a sort of Miroesque doodle of branches. I focussed on this scene and pondered a 'crop' much in the same way as a film-director would with his hands framing the scene.
I wondered where to put the frame - would I leave in the tree trunk or go past it to have the trunk as a strong vertical with more lighter space to the right of it? What would enhance the mazy drawing of these branches. How much to leave in and take out? Would it be best with just the cluster framed by the sky on all four sides? Doing this became a visual game and I noticed other branch 'pictures' emerge around me. When I returned my gaze to the original I noticed that there was a little bunch of green leaves that became lost when I cropped in and squinted to see with one eye - they seemed to merge with the more silvery green 'mush' of the leaves behind them. When I reverted to looking  at the scene with both eyes they popped back into focus and retained their original green sparkle. This subtle shift of focus, this "focal play",  this flit of our eyes moving fractions of millimetres in our heads but yards or miles in our field of vision fascinated me. The fact that we constantly move in our vision so fast that it becomes fluid, consciously static even at times is something that got me thinking about painting and areas of focus across a surface, how we see, composition and the nature of abstract art in relation to what we see.
Abstract art often has this lack of focal play that we gain from ordinary seeing. A composition sits in front and invites us to explore its colour and surface yet it is often centered in its weight so that the edges are incidental almost, dealt with yes but ultimately tidy rather than 'edgy'.
A few days later and we visited the Matisse gallery in Nice and this focal play issue started me looking at these works in another way.( blog to follow)
Anyway, back down the mountain for breakfast  - fresh figs picked from a tree and a cream doughnut to keep me honest. (British bakers should go to Italy - we are being cheated by a lack of filling in our doughnuts!)