How do you see the world?

How big do you think this painting is?


"Quick study", pastel, by Mary Aslin

And why am I asking?

How do you see the world? Larger than life? Life size? Smaller?
 
Ponder for a moment this painting by Winslow Homer (1836-1910), one of my art heroes. 
"Fresh Eggs", watercolor, 1874

Now ponder this painting by contemporary painter, Dan Gerhartz (1965 - ), another of my art heroes:
"Renewal", oil, probably 2007

How do these paintings affect you as you view them? What feelings do you have?  How do you place yourself in the scene?

An artist who was profiled recently in Internationat Artist magazine, quoted author Audrey Flack.  In her book "Art and Soul, Notes on Creating", Flack suggests that artists see in specific sizes, much like a 35 mm, 55 mm, or 105 mm camera lense which correspond to seeing smaller than life, life size, or larger than life.   Now, I ask you to view these paintings in context and sized accurately relative to each other.



How do you view them now?  How do your feelings and thoughts about the artists change? How does Winslow Homer view the world?  How about Dan Gerhartz?

Winslow Homer did do some very large paintings and Dan Gerhartz has produced some smaller ones. But, by and large, I believe that Winslow Homer saw his subjects smaller than life and Dan Gerhartz sees them about life size.  Would you agree?  (It's a generally accepted principle in representational painting that subjects presented larger than life, like a human head, can take on a surreal feel.....).

After reading the  idea put forth by Audrey Flack and evaluating the work of my art heroes, I made a personal breakthrough in understanding my own work.   Where I marvel at the excellence in execution, drawing skill, and composition of Winslow Homer's paintings, and I enjoy doing some small paintings, I really love to paint subjects life size or just slightly smaller.  The painting featured at the beginning of this newsletter is slightly smaller than life size. And now you can see it in context (and, in my dreams, placed in the company of those I revere....).



The value of the art gallery experience
 
 Think about how you have just viewed the paintings by Homer and Gerhartz.  How do you think viewing these paintings in person might enhance or alter your experience over viewing them from a computer screen?  Do we need art galleries? The analogy seems a bit like hearing live music in person versus recorded music.  Not only does the subtly and the nuance of the artist's hand come through more clearly when viewed in person, but there is no substitute for viewing a work at the size the artist intended it to be, which is part of his or her personal vision--his or her creative DNA--as an artist.  For this reason alone, I think that galleries will continue to play a vital role in bringing art to the public to view as the artist intended.