This quote from Leonard Bernstein came back to mind when I recently ran across this post from several years back. It’s a big part of what I do and seeing it again serves as a reminder that feeling that sense of place is vital in achieving work that I feel has life in it. Off the top of my head, I can’t recall where this painting finally found a home but I am hoping it is serving its caretaker as well as it served this post which I am reposting today.
“Any great art work … revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world – the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.”
I came across this quote from Leonard Bernstein that I really thought captured what I hope occurs in my work. I think that my work is most successful when people allow themselves to feel themselves as part of the landscape before them, to enter and breathe in that strange and special air, as Bernstein describes it. I know that this is the case for myself. I have written about this here before, about how these landscapes, with their blue and orange fields and bright red trees, feel as real to me as looking out my studio window. The fact of the blue in the field is overruled by its harmony within the composition which creates that sense of rightness to which I often refer.
Maybe this sense of rightness is what makes up that strange and special air. I don’t know. I only know that I still seek words or explanations to describe why a painting works, by which I mean has an emotional impact on the viewer. The new painting above is such a piece for me. It’s a 15″ by 25″ image on paper that I am calling, thanks to Mr. Bernstein, A Strange & Special Air.
I could sit here and try to break down the painting, talking about color and contrast, texture and depth. Line quality and composition. All of the things that I might momentarily consider while I’m at work on such a painting. But when all is said and done, I still have no idea why it has its own life, its own strange and special air.
Except that I feel that I am there, transported into that strange and special air, when I look at it.
And glad of it.
Perhaps that is enough and all that needs to be considered. For now, I accept that and will be satisfied to dwell in this landscape with its strange and special air.