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Seeing with Two Eyes

By Viktoria Vidali February 08, 2024 Mindset

In their shared studio, awash in sunlight, Gabriella applied oils to the canvas of a fiery sunset. She paused, regarding Marcus with a reflective gaze.

“Remember that saying, Marcus: ‘Those who have eyes, let them see.’?”

Marcus, engrossed in smoothing charcoal on a pensive face, replied, “Yes, but I’ve always found it cryptic.”

Gabriella deliberated, “Took me years to understand. When I first started out as an artist, I followed aesthetics principles meticulously, recreating every detail perfectly. Beautiful, yes, representative, true, but flat, lifeless. Then I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.” Her voice trailed off.

One Eye Sees, the Other Feels

Intrigued, Marcus asked, “Sounds like quite the inspirational trek?”

“It was,” Gabriella reminisced. “Standing there, dwarfed by the vastness of that majestic peak, colors weren’t simply colors anymore. They were emotions – awe, humility, wonder. I let my spirit float and felt a deep bond with everything around me. In that instant I truly saw.”

Marcus, engaged, shared his experience. “I’ve come to a similar understanding drawing people. Faces tell stories, not with strokes alone… it’s the sparkle in the eye, the subtle upturn of the lip that captures the soul rather than the outline of the form.”

Gabriella expanded, “We see with our hearts as much as with our eyes. My first Mt. Kilimanjaro sunset might’ve been compositionally correct, but now it has passion. And your portraits… when I look at them, I sense the essence of the person.”

“Thanks, Gaby,” Marcus rejoined. “Paul Klee, though not my favorite abstract painter, wrote something that has stayed with me all these years since art school, and it dovetails with what you just shared about Kilimanjaro. It’s this: ‘One eye sees, the other feels.’”

“Go on,” Gabriella coaxed.

Art Is a Revelation

“The ‘one eye’ is the objective and analytical observation of the external world – the technical aspects of art such as form, color, and structure. The ‘other eye’ is the interpretation and intuition of what is seen. It’s about accessing an artist’s inner world.”

He continued: “As an artist I try to see with two eyes by passing what I observe through my personal lens of perspective and feeling. This is why the masters have said – and I wholeheartedly agree with them – that when we make our work public, it’s a vulnerable moment because our art also reveals who we are.”

“I’ve felt that vulnerability myself, many, many times,” Gabriella responded, thoughtfully.

After a moment, she started to smile: “So who knows what kind of artwork we’ll create with both eyes fully open!?”

“We shall see (pun intended), my fellow artist-in-residence,” Marcus laughed. “Let’s raise our sights to the infinite possibilities!”

Where Valentine’s Day Factors In

Which brings us to St. Valentine’s Day, the holiday of love.

But wait a minute – What does St. Valentine’s Day have to do with Paul Klee’s saying: ‘One eye sees, the other feels?’

Well, on St. Valentine’s Day, we celebrate those nearest to our hearts – those who intimately know us, our strengths and weaknesses, and cherish us just the same. Our depth of appreciation comes from realizing that we are being seen with two eyes, a kind of perception that goes beyond surface impressions and embraces the nuanced tapestry of who we are, our entire being.

And how did this holiday of love find its way into the cultural landscape we recognize today?

As the legend goes, Roman Emperor Claudius II had decreed that young soldiers would be forbidden to marry because His Highness believed a single man made a stronger soldier. Undeterred by this edict, St. Valentine performed secret weddings. Eventually, St. Valentine’s disobedience came to light and Claudius imprisoned him.

While awaiting his fate, St. Valentine formed a friendship with the jailer’s daughter and, as the narrative goes, healed her from blindness. On the eve of his execution on February 14th, around the year 269 or 270 AD, he penned a heartfelt note to the jailer’s daughter, signing it, “From your Valentine.”

Dedicated to Love

The association of St. Valentine with romance likely began in the Middle Ages with the feast day of St. Valentine, February 14th, which also coincided with the mating season of birds. This connection led to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day should be a day dedicated to love.

The holiday gained popularity in 18th century England, where it evolved into a time of exchanging notes and tokens of affection. The tradition spread to the United States in the 19th century.

While some would argue that February 14th has today turned into a commercialized and sentimental spectacle of flowers and chocolates, there’s every reason to enhance its significance as a yearly occasion for expressing love and gratitude to all those, young and old, who we see and who see us with two eyes.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you made it a habit to see people with two eyes? Are you familiar with this saying? Was there a moment in your life that opened your eyes?

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The Author

Viktoria Vidali is a published writer, educator, photographer, and poet. Her love of children, music, travel, metaphysics, and the natural world inspire her work, as do vivid memories of her exhilarating 40,000 nautical-mile sailing voyage into the Eastern Pacific. Please contact Viktoria at: or at Poetry For Living (

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