Friday, May 28, 2010

In the eye of the Beholder

When you look at a painting, what do you see? The image? The colors? The texture...a mixture of all of these things? Has a work of art ever moved you to tears, rendered you speechless or made you angry? Most of us would answer in the affirmative to this question, but it is the rare viewer indeed that thinks not of the finished work, but of the journey from blank canvas to masterpiece and the brilliant cohesion of idea and application that brought the painting into being.

In the Vermeer painting I've included in this post, one can see the richness of the blue, which at the time, could only have come from a rare and expensive pigment indeed. The amazing realism of the light and figure and their intimate relationship with the surroundings challenges belief. This painting welcomes us in and asks us to feel the reality of it, experience the textures and hear our own feet echo off the solid walls as the air from the just opened window fills our nose. This painting is indeed a masterpiece.

How did this happen...this magnificent expression made from such disparate parts and molded from the rudimentary into the sublime. Thousands of times, the artist touched brush to canvas with just the right amount of pigment combined with just the right pressure and the million subtle gestures at his command to create layer upon layer. How did he see the work in progress and how, then, the finished work. Is even this great painting a compromise with time and the artists own attention span or did Vermeer know without a doubt the moment the last necessary stroke had been performed?

Imagine for just a moment that you had infinite time to create your masterpiece. Imagine that, in your field, be it landscaping or gene mapping, you were given infinite time and resources and told simply to make something you can be proud of? What would you make, design, write, paint, program, engineer or sing?

Do you have your answer? If so, you now know what you should be working on. You may not have infinite resources or time, but most likely you can free up just a little of both and get started! I can't wait to see your masterpiece!