What Do You See

The purpose of this post is to prove that, regardless of whether or not you have a brain injury, you know more than you think you know. One of the main tenets of reading to learn is the belief that you can enhance the learning process by applying your prior knowledge to the stories you read. I believe that same theory applies to the things you see. In other words, you can look at the following picture and begin to understand it even though you may not be familiar with the picture.


If you cannot see, or you cannot see well, practice using other senses to understand where you are and what you “see.” You could also use technology based compensation tools.


  • What clues lead us to determine whether we are looking at a scene from past or present?
  • Several people appear to be staring at something blue on the left side of the picture. How do we know if the people are staring at a mural or body of water?
  • What do we know about the season depicted in the picture?
  • The picture depicts an activity taking place at a certain time. Is the activity occurring closer to 6:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., or 11:30 p.m. and how do we know?
  • The green things at the top of the screen are not displayed in their entirety. What are they and how do you know?
  • Each animal in the lower right corner has four legs, two ears, and a tail. What are the animals and how do you know?
  • We cannot see the majority of faces in the picture. How do we know the objects in the picture are people?

The picture in this post is a copy of the painting titled “Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte” which can be translated to “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” When Georges Seurat painted the picture around 1884, the artist probably was not thinking his creation could be used as a brain injury recovery tool. However the painting is an incredible example of art and a wonderful tool for recovery from brain injury.

What do we know with more certainty now than when we first saw the picture? Was the artist European or American? At what were the people staring? Was the artist depicting a scene from his present or our present?

By the way, the artist used a technique now known as pointillism to create the painting referenced in this post. Regardless of what you think you saw in the picture, you saw only dots. Your brain connected the dots to form the people, plants, animals, water, boats and everything else you think you saw.


Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.

Thanks to Wendy for discussing art interpretation with me. Thanks to Georges Seurat, Google, and Wikipedia for making it possible to include a copy of “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” in this post.

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