Last weekend I took a day trip to Dallas with my sisters celebrating the baby of us girls graduating high-school. We visited the Dallas museum of art and beelined for a Van Gogh piece that was part of their collection. I felt like a could stand in front of it for hours just staring. My sisters debated over what they saw, was it dancing ladies?…smoking haystacks?…little volcanoes?…I just noticed the squiggles.
The piece was part of the Wendy and Emery Reeves collection; a unique exhibit of 1,400 objects from oil paintings to porcelain, to furniture, and textiles. All of the pieces are exhibited together and set up as if they are in use. It’s basically a recreation of the Reves’ Italian villa. They had a handful of paintings from noteworthy impressionist and post impressionist painters like Manet, Monet, Bonnard, Cezanne, Morisot, the above mentioned Vang Gogh and more. At first I was disappointed that quite a few of the paintings were set up in a bedroom or living room scene and were so far away that you couldn’t even see them. Boo! But it did make me think about living with a Cezanne painting on your wall and how artwork is meant to exist in vibrant living spaces, in homes where it can add beauty and value and be a part of the conversation.
I am always, always, struck by impressionist work every time I get to see a painting in person. There is less in the painting than I think there is going to be and at the same time, more than I could’ve ever imagined. These are paintings that I’ve seen many times in print and yet seeing them life sized right before me, I realized how much my mind had automatically filled in that isn’t there. Looking at paintings that are big enough to see, my eyes got lost in the brushstrokes, in the squiggles, in the lines of color. And thats all they are, just squiggles on a canvas. Which are interesting enough on their own, but placed next to each other create a world that sparks and comes alive and moves and breathes in my imagination. And I realized how beautiful that is and concluded that in my own work, I’d like to leave more up to the viewers imagination.