Dave Munger at Cognitive Daily illustrates the results from an experiment that tracked the eye movement of two groups of people, psychologists and trained artists, examining various images.
Wandering over more of the presented scene to take in the less obvious points, the perceptive powers of the artists were demonstrably different from psychologists. They spent more time taking in the whole picture rather than remaining focused a few prominent features.
So why do artists look at pictures -- especially non-abstract pictures -- differently from non-artists? [Study authors] Vogt and Magnussen argue that it comes down to training: artists have learned to identify the real details of a picture, not just the ones that are immediately most salient to the perceptual system, which is naturally disposed to focusing on objects and faces. With this in mind, there's little doubt which pictures above show the artist's eye movements -- they are the ones to the right, which sweep across the whole picture, not just the human face and figure.
Check out the post.
If you get the chance you may also want to listen to the latest podcast linked from IFblog. Dr. Leonard Shlain discusses of the life and work of Leonardo Da Vinci, who most certainly saw things differently.