Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Did you notice?

A few weeks ago I met a friend for lunch. During our visit I made a comment on some of the café’s artwork. She mentioned that I always seem to notice details. She’s right.

I’m always on the lookout for interesting snippets to incorporate into my fiction. As an author I’m always reading, and I love to take note of an interesting detail that pulls me further into the fictional dream. The more deeply I’m drawn into the story, the more meaningful the book becomes and the more it lingers with me after I’ve read the last page.

Several years ago I went to an Expressionist exhibit at an art museum. The curator mentioned that long before multimedia, people would go to an art show then discuss the picture much in the same way that people discuss a new movie release. That thought intrigued me. To do that, the critics must have REALLY looked hard at the image.

Over the weekend I visited the Denver Art Museum. I strolled through the galleries and wondered what the artists were trying to say through the paintings. Why was the scene outdoors instead of inside? Why was the subject glancing to the right? What significance is there in the other objects in the painting?

When you consider the art, you can find stories inside. The experience helped to jumpstart my creativity. I wondered about so much of what I noticed. One family portrait had the family gathered around the end of the table, but if you look carefully, there was a figure at the other end of the table, shaded so much that you might have missed her. Why did the painter depict her like that? Could she have been a beloved child, now deceased? Another portrait showed a young girl holding a doll dressed in black, one that looked like a little adult. I read some information about that painting, and it said that perhaps the child’s mother was no longer living.

There are so many stories swirling around us, both written with words and crafted with a painter’s brush. What make the stories intriguing are the details.

It’s up to us to notice the details. And it’s all in the details, don’t you think?

BTW, the above portrait is called Lady in Pink, artist unknown. What could her story be?


Catherine West said...

I'm such a ditz most of the time, I walk around in a fog, thinking about the story inside my head. I have to work hard at noticing what's going on around me. :0) But when I do, it's really fun!

tonya said...

What a great exercise in creativity. When strolling through the art gallery, I look for my favorites. They are the ones that make my heart sing while admiring them. But I never thought to ask, normally I am so enthralled to do so. :)
I have wanted to go to the Art Museum for sometime, so when I go I will remember to ask more. :)

Megan DiMaria said...

The Denver Art Museum currently has a photography exhibit, Tonya. I thought of you when I was there. You'd enjoy seeing the photos. They're from one photographer, and it seems to chronicle his family's life through the years.

Erin MacPherson said...

I love this! I was an art history minor in college and I think that's what I loved most about studying paintings was imagining a backstory out of the characters.