A New Way of Looking

Edgar Degas wasn’t the only one who considered the idea that “Painting is very easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”

I started an internship at a Columbus art gallery this week and had a nice conversation with a man from Denver who recently started taking painting classes for fun. He explained that as a novice learning the trade, he realized that there are seemingly endless possibilities for combing brush types, strokes, paint colors and surfaces. 

His excitement in viewing the artwork on display was fresh and filled with awe as he tried to imagine the artist’s process. As he analyzed painted field of wheat, he tried guessing the size of the brush, the time of day and to what degree layering was used in the rendering. To this man, the gap between an idea and an artist’s work runs much deeper than anticipated. In fact, the idea is barely the tip of the creative iceberg. 

The approach an artist takes in executing ideas is part of what makes original art valuable. Even with the same idea, a dozen people could look at a landscape and produce entirely different paintings. The hand of an artist leaves a little piece of identity in every brush stroke.

Everyone can learn a little from the Denver gentleman when viewing and critiquing art. The experiences and perspective of the viewer enhance the work with entirely new life, proving that a painting is like a living document. Every viewer adds a new page to its story, and only the viewer can decide how the story ends.

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