Sunday, November 13, 2011

Challenge 25 - Betrayed Dreams


The process of creating art truly helps us to see. It’s by being able to see the spirit of the subject that an artist captures something vital and alive in the painting even when he or she is presenting a static still life scene on a canvas.

Over the last few weeks we have enjoyed a bountiful of visual richness in the different paintings for the “Still Life With Cantaloupe” challenge.

Never visually repetitive, the freshness of each painting showed how you had carefully studied your ‘goal’, brought a ‘new’ eye to each of the paintings, and also brought particular intentions to the painting process.

Thank you for giving all of us an opportunity to view your paintings! And of course a big thank you to all of us who found time to post feedback and encourage our fellow artists.

Just a small reminder that constructive critique from you is equally welcome and very helpful to many of us who have recently embarked on this journey in art.

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About the composition:

This composition and its title is all about the symbolism and hidden meanings in art. About emotions and stories.

What did the artist want to say with this composition? What is the message for the viewer? What is the story the artist wanted to share with the viewer? What kind of questions, feelings, emotions or memories the artist aimed to provoke?

Ask yourself all these questions for each of the compositions you are creating, to help you and guide you towards creating a successful well composed painting that speaks to the viewer.

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As soon as I showed this composition to a friend of mine, a flood of questions started to fly around.

The friend said “I like it” and then, immediately asked “Why is the rose turned upside down? Isn’t that cruel? It will die! ” I imagine someone else may also ask “Why have you chosen a glass and not a vase where rose naturally belongs?”

I love these questions. I wanted them. I carefully planned to provoke the viewer to ask questions. I wanted to evoke emotions…to make him ponder, get engaged, get intrigued, be entranced and yet break the spell and figure out the secret message kept inside the painting


The rose lived in a glamorous crystal glass palace full of fairy tale dreams. It is more than obvious that the rose used to be very happy there.

Don’t you right here imagine yourself in that idyllic crystal palace full of goods and happiness surrounded by fairy tale dreams where everything seems easy and possible? You lived there once upon a time, didn’t you? All of us did.

Then, you realize the rose (your whole world) has been turned upside down. The life juices are running out. The sky is so far away and the ground is just below your nose. Something went awfully wrong. Something inside you is screaming “What has happened? I used to be so happy. I was flying to the stars, and the Sun and clouds were my best friends. This hard landing to the dirty ground soil could not possibly be real. Is this just a bad dream? Is it a nightmare and I just need to wake up and all will be as it used to be? My fairy tale world would magically come back … to me….”

After you absorbed the first freezing reality shock, you started to remember … One day a gentle breeze brought a honey bee on your petals. It’s cute appearance and cheerful games made you gladly open your arms and unselfishly share the beauty of your dream world. You could never imagine that anything could possibly go wrong and your kindness could break the spell. You were enjoying enormously. The honey bee was very happy flitting all over your silky, glorious gown of petals, happily jumping from one to another, taking a bath in the sea of pollen and the intoxicating rose juice - Only one wrong move, and the balance was lost, you toppled and the rose world flipped upside down.

The viewer is secretly asked “Did you ever feel like this in your life? What happened afterwards?”

Without the crystal palace to protect it from the strong winds, storms, freezing cold and rain, the rose was on its knees. Once the envy of all, the glorious gown of petals started to fall apart turning into a carpet of fallen soldiers on the battlefield. The cold winter winds shredded its soft silk gown and the days of glory, hope, dreams were far behind … gone. The reality was heartbreaking.

The crystal dream palace… such a glorious, bountiful cozy home… turned into a glass of disappointment, an invisible bad tasting wine which does not even look like wine … more like water.

Here the viewer is asked “How often did you hunt for a miraculous solution to all your formidable problems? You know what I am talking about – seeking refuge in the empty promises of an intoxicant… trying to wipe away reality… you flee from the truth.”

Perhaps there is wine, not water in the glass. And the rose knows that the wine in the glass will kill it. The sedative pill will not solve the problems. Yet, the rose continues to hold strongly to its edge and tries very hard to get back, almost certainly, to its sure, painful and inevitable death.
Here, the viewer is asked the same questions as the artist at the beginning …

What did the artist want to say with this composition? What is the message for the viewer? What is the story the artist wanted to share with the viewer? What kind of questions, feelings, emotions or memories the artist aimed to provoke?

… The viewer’s imagination will craft the answer the artist has intended ….or maybe not. It might say …

When an innocent honey bee comes to taste the nectars of a dream world you have been happily living in, enjoy the game with the whole heart, and make sure your roots are planted deep enough to withstand the unplanned turbulence… keep the foundation of your dream world firmly tightened to the ground.

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I hope you enjoyed the story. I hope it helps you understand that a good painting is not just a pretty picture on the wall. It needs to tell its story. It needs to evoke emotions.

When you paint this composition, try to remember this story and try to think what kind of colors, edges, additions or simplifications will help to accomplish what you want…. before the first brush stoke touches your canvas or paper. Afterwards … it is too late.

Don’t forget the rose dream world story …But of course, you may have an entirely different story, and we look forward to it!

Please send a photo of your painting the latest by Dec 31. The next painting reference will be posted on Jan 1, 2012.

4 comments:

watercolorpainting said...

What a beautiful photo!! so much light and atmosphere.
With regards from the Netherlands Joke Klootwijk

Sylviane said...

I remember having painted this vase, Lela, and it was not easy!
A beautiful picture.

Debbie Later said...

You are truly blessed. You are a talented artist, writer and teacher. Thank you for all you do. Even though I have not made the time to participate in the challenge I still read and learn from your posts.

Lela said...

Thank you Joke (watercolorpainting), Sylviane and Debbie!

Your comments about the composition and the story are very encouraging for me and inspire me so much. I am glad you found it helpful. I am truly humbled by such kind feedback. Thank You!