My husband and I recently visited the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, to see an exhibit of Impressionist art. I’ve always adored Impressionism, but I wasn’t prepared for what I found – and I’m not talking about the art itself, though that was breathtaking. I’m talking about my reaction to it.
I was enchanted, warmed, and enriched. I was awed by the skill of these artists. But what I loved most, truly, was being swept away to another place and time. With once glance, I was in the French countryside or on the coast. I was taking shelter from a storm or watching a regatta. I was standing in high grass in my ankle-length skirt, holding a parasol, breathing in the sweet salt air of the sea.
I had forgotten what fine art can do. I’m sure it’s different for different people. But for me, it taps into every little life experience I’d ever had that remotely relates to the subject of the painting before me. In some cases, it even captures my dreams.
Art and I go back a ways. As a child, I did paint-by-number renditions of Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy.” I did jigsaw puzzles of Monet’s “Water Lily Pond” and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” I even collected little art prints – I mean, really little art prints, like 2” X 3” prints that I sent for in the mail and then mounted in a scrapbook with black corners. We used to call these minis such-and-such prints, and I’ve been trying to remember what such-and-such is, but can’t. Is this ringing a bell with anyone out there?
When I was in college, Keane “Big Eye” prints were the rage, and once I graduated and got married, my husband and I chose art that (a) we could afford (which wasn’t much) and (b) took us places we couldn’t afford to go. Even after money eased, the requirement that a piece speak to us remained. Most of the pieces currently in our home are depictions of woods or fields or brooks. These things drawn us in. They calm us. When I redid my office a few years ago, I decorated around a single piece of art – “Allen’s Skiff,” by New Hampshire artist, Peter Ferber.
This print has water, tall grasses and flowers, and a small boat that begs, Come lie in me, feel the sough of the water, see the sky. “Allen’s Skiff” is the first thing I see when I enter my office, and each and every time, it clears my mind.
Does art do special things for you? If so, what?