That’s something I started to think more about this morning. I was showing Gloria one of my recent paintings and pointing out some of its features. She appreciated it much more afterwards, saying that prior to my explanation the painting looked … well I can’t remember her exact words, but they weren’t complimentary.
She now realised that there was purpose behind the painted marks and symbols, she could appreciate they had meaning and she liked the painting a lot more.
Her response raised the question of what viewers expect from art and how many are interested in something more than pretty pictures. How much effort are they willing to put into looking an art work?
In my paintings I try to express ideas related to scripture, using text and symbols. Some of those symbols may seem obscure and the casual viewer may miss their intended significance. It might be easier if a glossary of symbols was displayed next to each painting to explain what everything means, but what room would that leave for the viewer to discover things for themselves? And surely discovery is part of the joy that we can get when viewing art – as long as we are observant, patient, and give the artwork enough respect to SEE it rather than merely glance at it.