Monday, January 14, 2008

Do You See What I See?

"Captive Look" ACEO can be bid on here.
Copyright Rita Woodburne

"Silver and Cherries" ACEO can be bid on here.
Copyright Rita Woodburne

Welcome back to a new week, dear reader!

Well, I was going to continue with my solvent experiment today but the week-end was a total write off in terms of getting any artwork done because, as they say, life got in the way. So, instead what I'd like to do is direct you to a post on James Gurney's blog about how people see artwork and that, for all the technical planning in the world, not everyone sees every piece in the same way. His post on this subject can be found here.

I found his post terribly interesting because I can recall doing a similar exercise in high-school in art class (my art teacher was awesome!!) and after doing the exercise she asked each of us why our eyes were drawn to a particular section/ area of an image. Was it the lighting? Was it the colour? Was it a sharp value change? Was there a particular object of interest there? And so on.
The exercise was fun and this past week-end the Other Half and I had another couple over, who admittedly knew little about art, and we whipped out an abstract painting that my Grandmother gave to us that was painted by one of her friends many, many years ago so we could try the same thing. With abstract art the results of such an experiment, in my mind anyway, are much more interesting...or at the very least amusing.

Initially when the Other Half saw the painting in question, about 3 or 4 years ago, he almost instantly saw what it was (to him). I believe his exact words were: "Well, any idiot can see that it's a campfire."

Well. Paint me yellow and call me stupid.

However, when he said that the lightbulb went off for me because I could see the fire almost instantly. I had seen this painting almost my entire life and every time I saw it all I could really think to myself is: "Looks like someone got a little out of control with the ol' paintbrush." This is why I'm not an abstract artist, nor can I critique it.
When we asked this other couple what they saw one of them offered up a suggestion of a modern landscape image with sky-rise buildings while the other saw a deer emerging from a forest. Go figure?

We didn't get into the whole over-analysis of their suggestions but it did get me to thinking about how folks look at art and how they interpret what they see, whether the piece is abstract or hyper-realism. How much does composition really influence those who don't know a whole lot about it? How do colour choices affect the person that knows nothing about complementaries?

So, would you be game to showing your work to a complete stranger and asking them what they really focus on in your work? I may just have to start doing that when show season starts up again. :)

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