Yes, I understand that in some contexts, when what comes after is what the narrator is actually seeing, it can be simply deleted. But there are many instances with 'look' or similar looking verbs where it's use describes for the reader the actions of the characters involved, perhaps it describes their changed focus. For example:
‘Where are you from?’
I paused, momentarily, then carried on sketching.
‘Here.’ I didn’t look up. I didn’t want to see her face.
‘Really? But you sound kind of … different.’ Now I looked up. ‘I mean, it’s weird because you don’t, but then you do.’ She snort-laughed. Shrugged.
Here, I especially want to contrast her NOT looking at one point to her giving in and looking in the following dialogue line.
She switched pencils and started shading the underbelly of her dog with the soft lead. Then silence. I looked up. Her pencil was poised over the page, her head cocked to one side. I followed the line of her eyes. The unfamiliar boy...
Here I see I could eliminate 'I looked up' but this action is caused by the silence and it takes the reader through the scene to help visualise it, like blocking in a play, I suppose.
One more example (she's been sent a cryptic picture by Frankie):
I examined the scrap of paper. Turned it over. And back again.
‘Why would he…?’ I heard the crazies’ in-joke tittering and looked back at Frankie to see his tongue protruding from his mouth, wagging.
So here (similarly to no. 2) her looking is caused by the tittering and then leads to her seeing Frankie's stupid expression - to me it seems critical to creating the picture, almost like a series of camera shots would lead the viewer through the bits s/he should be focussing on to grasp the story effectively.
Am I just way off mark here?