Do You See What I See?
Artists are an amazing group of people.We are trained to see things that others, without the same training, don't see. On a recent trip to Florida I was looking at boats in the harbor. I saw the shapes that the light makes on the highlights and the shape and color of the shadows on the opposite side of the boat. I tend to see almost everything in terms of shapes, values and colors. My wife sees a boat. And most others with no artistic training just see a boat. Hey, nice boat!
One of the things I love about abstract painting is that everyone sees something different. Those who don't know about shape, value and color will try to relate shapes and colors in the paintings to something they know, like a person, animal or thing. This is their way of engaging with the work. You and I will not see the same thing, and I think that is a positive. Abstract paintings are more open to interpretation and are a true reflection of the artist and how he/she sees the world. Abstract paintings don't tell the whole story.
With realism, artists often tell too much of the story of a painting without leaving any mystery to engage with. If I see a painstakingly realistic piece, I can appreciate how much work the artist put into creating it, but beyond that I am bored. The artist told the whole story and fully described everything visually. If that is the case, how and where do I engage with the piece? I much prefer an artist not tell me the whole story. Tell me a just enough for me to be interested in the piece. Then I can complete the story in my own way, with my own version of the narrative. This way, my version will be completely different from the person standing right next to me looking at the same piece. That is what makes art so interesting.
Many collectors purchase art because they want to see the world through the artist's eyes, even if it just a glimpse into that other world. We artists do live in another world and sharing that world is part of our job. When we are able to share just enough to give someone a peek behind the curtain, then we begin to engage their mind and their heart. We are then sharing our world with them, allowing both maker and viewer to inhabit that world together simultaneously. To me this is the greatest gift of art.