Sunday, May 06, 2012

Visual Vocabulary

How often does it happen that after visiting an art museum, we walk back out onto the same streets, but with different eyes.  After spending hours looking closely at art, we have begun to see differently, because the artwork has given us a new visual vocabulary.

Many times, I have stepped out of a museum, and suddenly I am aware of even the cracks in sidewalks seeming to speak to me . . . informing me of their unique lines and the shapes they carve into a picture.
Since the twentieth century, there have been two main themes in visual art: abstraction and realism. Common thought is that the two do not meet, but are opposed. I do not think the contrast is so stark. How often is it that we look up into an abstract sky that is constantly in flux, and notice how the clouds have taken a “realistic” shape. Someone points a finger upward and says, “Look, it is a horse!”  Likewise, looking at large, realist paintings, if we bring our eyes close to the work, it becomes abstract, so that we need to step back in order to get the full picture and read the story. 

Yesterday, a woman bought a painting from The Steven Boone Gallery. She bought a small, square shaped oil painting of mine, called “The Pleasant Path.” She may or may not realize it, but she has many paintings in one—both realistic, and abstract. Hopefully, the painting is broadening her visual vocabulary, and doing what artwork does for us, enhancing life.

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