A friend and I stood looking out my kitchen window and I made the comment, “Look how the light is hitting on the leaves of those trees!”
My friend couldn’t see it and replied, “The light is in your heart.”
I was baffled by the comment and questioned her: “If I see it, doesn’t everyone see it? It is there to see.” But, after reading about the masters of the arts, I realized how much we are not seeing.
What makes the masters see more uniquely, and behold beauty in a way that others do not see? One thing is, their lives were less complicated. What they had was a way of catching a glimpse of beauty in the simplest things, and yet in a significant way.
Walt Whitman, a poet, to his last days was like a child in the gentleness and the fullness of his fancy. He was one who didn’t do away with his imaginings when he passed out of childhood, and he didn’t consent to the fact that the prancing horse he had ridden in those happy days had only been a broken broomstick. His work is, in a sense, an autobiography; of his deepest thoughts, and prophetic philosophy. Simple things aroused in him words that could speak of a meadow as he looked at a few flowers on the table. Whitman died many years ago, but he lives on in his work, which is expanding in us as we grow to know him more.
Robert Henri writes of Rembrandt, “A model is wonderful in as many ways as there are pairs of eyes to see her. Each view of her is an original view and there is a response in her awaiting each view. If the eyes of a Rembrandt are upon her she will rise in response and Rembrandt will draw what he sees and it will be beautiful. Rembrandt was a man of great understanding. He had the rare power of seeing deep into the significance of things.”
Rembrandt had such a respect and understanding for his subject, any model would have clamored to sit before him. He raised them to a higher dignity and beauty because of the way he saw them. A genius is one who sees. The whole value of art rests in the artist’s ability to see well. Not to paint well, but to see well.
As painters and writers, we do not need to perfume the lily by adding to its beauty. The fragrance of the subject is significant in itself. The masters did not try to make their subjects something that they weren’t, their understanding surpassed beyond the eye.
What can we learn from the great men of the past? Beauty is felt in the core. It is not necessarily vast and lofty, it can be small and lowly. Beauty is the same in the greatness of the spirit and the seeing mind. We must express it, not because we are artists or writers, but because we have been moved by the force and beauty of what we see.
The Final Brushstroke: My friend is right. Beauty is in the heart.
Quote for the Week
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” — Georgia O’Keeffe.
At the Co-op
We are excited to announce that the Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op is now receiving artwork from the high school artists. The deadline is April 31.
On Sunday May 19, the Co-op will host a reception for all the artists who participate. The winners will be announced and prizes will be awarded.
Watch for the newest venture that will be happening at the Pagosa Artisans’ Center. Plans are projected for May 15.