The Eye of the Beholder                                             3-9-2018

                Some folks are going to be very surprised about the theme of tonight's blog. You were expecting something else, weren't you? Surprise !
  The right time will come to discuss today's events, but tonight ain't that time. We have a Town Board Meeting coming up next Tuesday, and out of fairness to all, I am keeping today to myself until AFTER that meeting. 

                 Tonight, I want to talk about something else entirely. 

                 About 16 years ago, I started painting my own greeting cards. I did it for one reason only, to make my grand-daughters smile. Not being much of an artist, my work was far from perfect, bit I did manage to achieve the result I was seeking, which was "Whimsy". My favorite subject was of course, animals, especially dogs. Anyone who has ever observed or loved an animal has seen their "Goofy" side, those moments of sweet silliness that lies within them.  I wanted the girls to see and appreciate that side of their pets and to learn that silliness is not only okay, but healthy for ALL species. 

                  It was an enjoyable and successful endeavor and family and friends began to ask for more. As a result, I haven't purchased a store card in over 15 years and have even sold a good number of my cards locally and online. Then, about 8 years ago, I stopped making cards abruptly, putting the paintbrushes down for almost a full year after a serious loss of both confidence and joy in what I was doing.

                  I had listed a handful of cards for sale online and a few days later, an email arrived that took the wind out of me. It was from a critic, which was not unusual or unexpected, but this one was much more than mere criticism, it was an all-out, venomous attack. The writer said some things that were so vulgar I can't repeat them here, and asked me if all the animals I painted were "Supposed" to look like "Retards".  She went on to say that I was so stupid, I probably believed that "Poetry should rhyme". 

                   It was brutal, and it went on and on, and I allowed a nameless, faceless person to rob me of what little confidence I had in my hobby. By the way, I DO think poetry should rhyme.

                    It took me a long time to recover from that assault and for me to realize that art has no rules. Art is a unique expression of the individual artist. No two people will paint the same way or view a piece of art in the same way. Personally, I enjoy art that actually LOOKS like something, tells a story, or invokes an emotion. I love Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, Warren Kimble, and many others, even though each one's art is nothing like the others'. 

                     Watching people stand in an art gallery and discuss the meaning of an ink blot or paint splash just doesn't compute for me. I see neither meaning nor talent, but I respect the right of the observer to see it differently. That's what Art Appreciation is all about, isn't it? 

                       So I had my epiphany eventually, and began painting again. What did it matter how many people hated my work or loved it? The goal was to invoke smiles and spread a little silliness. There is so much stress and seriousness in our daily lives that a dose of whimsy now and then is a much-needed antidote. If we could all see something each day that makes us exhale, smile, or see the funny side of life, the world would be a happier, healthier place. So what if it is imperfect, if WE are imperfect? 

                        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and happiness is a choice.  Never let anyone's cruel words rob you of Joy.