Interpretation of a painting
A few years back I found that an artist’s interpretation of a painting is just one of many even though they created the painting with their own significance of what it was to present. Their interpretation is by no means the last word on what people personally actually see or feel about a painting. This then brings up a question regarding who is right, the artist or the viewer of the art.
As I painted a large four foot by five foot canvas a few years ago at Buckley’s Restaurant, I heard a lot of discussion on what I was painting most of which were very different from my main intention or topic. I then realized that even though I was painting the picture, my interpretation was just one among many. I thought my intention was the right one; but the more I listened to their conversations, the more I realized that their opinions had a lot of merit. While this was not a new concept to me, it was a reminder of what I really knew but had almost forgotten. If the painting is credible, it will mean different things to different people.
When I embark on a religious painting that has been formulated in my head or soul, I start out with an objective. I try to tell a visual story or convey a distinct feeling. I understand that others may see the subject matter or story completely different from me. When I painted my sons’ paintings, “Brain Storm” and “Mind Scape,” with different lighting each painting changed as to what I saw in each. Most of what was revealed was unintentional. I didn’t plan everything that was there or maybe my subconscious mind was working without me really being aware of it. The three paintings I am now working on may also have more than I consciously intend. To me this is where the spiritual aspect of each painting is revealed. As I paint, even the underpainting, I am continuously looking for new and insightful images in this stage before it even enters the “mess” stage. Each of these three paintings could support an entire course in painting as I try to develop their special lighting, normal lighting and a spiritual, energy lighting and have each well-defined. The one that uses mostly natural lighting is a very difficult scenery that depends on direct, indirect lighting and shadows across intricate surfaces. Images will appear and disappear according to how much light the painting is exposed to … or not.
Will we, my inspirational guide and myself, be able to pull it off or will it just remain hidden in this artist’s mind.
Paintings originating from the inside of an artist go through a lot of agony before that last brushstroke is applied. I guess that’s why this artist depends on prayer so much. Without that reassurance, I wouldn’t even attempt what I am doing, especially now.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at (740) 852-4906 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.