Friday, March 27, 2009

Art Appreciation Metaphor

If you stand too close to a painting, you only get to see a small piece of it. If you stand too far away, you never get to appreciate the detail in the work.

You might approach a particular painting and, from a distance, anticipate that you won’t enjoy when you get up closer, but when you do get closer you start to see there are more colours in it than you could see from further away. And as you get closer still, you start to see the fine detail in the brush strokes and you can start to understand, or muse on, why the artist chose to paint the picture in that way. The more time you spend observing the painting, from all different distances and angles, you begin to see even more colour and detail, small animal tracks in the snow, a bird hidden behind some leaves in a tree.

One thing about art, and life, is that the process and the movements of the process need not always be intentional and deliberate in order to achieve a work of beauty; sometimes mistakes and errors can take the painting, or life, in a new and surprisingly pleasant direction. But a great painting can’t be created on impulse alone; even the most abstract works need some intention behind them. You have to choose your colours, brushes, medium, size, and surface. And it’s the small, intentional details of a painting, those three, tiny red dots in the corner that don’t quite fit with the rest of the colour scheme, that can evoke the most intimate feelings.

And that’s just one painting. The entirety of a life is composed of a whole gallery of artworks. On the first floor of your gallery might be more traditional and classical works, a homage to your past, perhaps. On the second floor might be very contemporary works, a place where new things and ideas in and about your life are developing. On the third floor you might house your abstract works, paintings of non-literally expressed emotions which are more mature in content and method than the second floor, but lack the constraints of the classical works on the first floor. And up on the top floor is your studio; a place full of ideas, materials, and potential.

In regards to the fourth floor, I think cognitive behavioural therapy could stand in for ideas, pharmacotherapy or other treatments for materials, and potential, well that’s inherent in everyone.

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