The Eye of the Beholder

As I wrote yesterday, art is a very personal experience. That’s true not only for artists creating works, but also for those who view them. We each have our likes and dislikes and as I’ve often heard said, there’s no accounting for taste.

One of my all-time favorite works of art is Lavender Mist 1 by Jackson Pollack. My husband, however, just shakes his head and wonders how anyone could call that art.

Lavender Mist No 1 by Jackson Pollack
Lavender Mist No 1 by Jackson Pollack

I, on the other hand, look at Magenta, Black, Green on Orange and say “Huh?” Countless other art viewers, of course, sing the praises of Mark Rothko.

Magenta Black Green on Orange

As I learn more about drawing and painting and the use of different media, I’m becoming increasingly curious about each work of art I view, whether in a textbook, through the internet, in art magazines, or on a visit to a gallery or museum. I can certainly be more appreciative of every work of art as I learn more about the time, effort, and techniques employed by the artist, yet there are still some works that leave me gasping in wonder and others that find me simply gasping.

What fascinates me most, I think, is that I can’t identify any common thread running through my broad tapestry of artistic likes. Color plays a large part, of course, and I tend to look longer and closer at paintings with pastel colors and lighter hues. I definitely prefer natural scenes over man-made settings. I love almost all the impressionist painters.

So, why, then is Nighthawks by Edward Hopper one of my favorite works? It’s dark. It’s a man-made setting in a city. It’s far from impressionistic. Yet this picture has always “spoken” to me, has always called my attention. Go figure!


It’s quite a puzzle to me, and I’m sure I’ll never arrive at any clear-cut, definitive reason why one painting moves me and another leaves me cold. And that’s a good thing, of course. Art isn’t a science, and personal taste…well, as I said before, there’s no accounting for it.

As I move along my pathway and do more drawing and painting, I want to choose subjects that speak to me personally, scenes that spark an emotional response from deep within me. Others who see my work might not have those same reactions, and that’s all right. In fact, isn’t the true beauty in art the simple fact that it really is in the eye of the beholder?



      1. I used to be…before I started playing around with art LOL. Now I read a lot of art books but have little time for anything else. I’m making it a point though to go to the library every week. I do want to get back into the reading habit — other than art, art, art.

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