Archive for October, 2011

“So, what’s it to you?”

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

It’s fun sometimes to take a good, close look at an everyday object to see beauties we don’t normally take time to appreciate. An open mind, a fresh way of looking at things – these keep me alert and keep the world interesting. How can we get bored when there’s a new discovery to make simply through closer study of what we think we already know?

110805 Eye of the Moon

One day I picked up a moon shell, at first glance round and gray, rather undistinguished and dull. But a closer look drew me into its vortex. There I discovered colors and textures and understated line that cried out to me to paint them.

In trying to categorize my finished painting, “Eye of the Moon” (#110805), no established category seemed to fit. What was it? A still-life? An animal? An abstract? But then, … does the category even matter? It is what it is, and that is open to the viewer’s interpretation. So I’m calling it an abstract, though it is actually merely a loosely rendered depiction of an actual form.

The question is less “What is it?” than “What is it to you?” And that’s part of what art is about – allowing our eyes to see the unexpected and our minds to read the unexpected into what we see.

Bypassing the Icons

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

The last couple times I wrote about taking advantage of iconic images to recall travel experiences. But sometimes I have to break away from the expected and depict images from a less common perspective.

Standing Sentinel

The fact is that, though I have been to Venice numerous times and have depicted that city by using images of the boats encountered throughout its canals, I have never actually taken that quintessential gondola ride myself. So to retell my own travel tales, I often seek out less-anticipated images.

In Venice, these include the buildings, eroded by the ever-present effects of sea water; working boats in all their various forms; statuary, bold and bare in the open campos, or moss-covered in shaded seclusion; leashed pets who are sure this island domain is theirs and theirs alone; bridges that arch and turn, leading usually from via to via, but sometimes into a private door or window; and people who look comfortably “at home” … or out of place. The unexpected can be enlightening.

Icons do have their place, by bringing to mind a general recollection of a city. But non-iconic images relate specific experiences unique to my own travels. They speak to other viewers, as well, who want to remember … or imagine … more than the sights and experiences common to the everyday tourist.

In a shady memorial park in Venice, the lady depicted above in “Standing Sentinel” (#110706) has stood watch, season upon season, through unnumbered generations. Her moss-cloaked form blends with the foliage surrounding her until she has become a part of the land herself. I discovered her one day when exploring some of the less traveled byways of the city. Since then, she and the memorial park are on our must-do list whenever we visit Venice.