Landscape paintings are easy; a tree is a tree, some say, as a landscape may be rendered any old way and still describe what it is. Eh … yes and no. A tree, it is true, does not usually have the familiar given proportions like that of the human body, so some freedom of the so called “artistic license” is understood when looking at a tree in a painting. So here perhaps, is a large point to consider when it comes to looking at art. It is a point often discussed; is it necessary to render a thing so exact for the rendering to be considered art?
The human face, for example, requires more exacting observation in that we are built to intuitively understand the basic proportions and placement of our features. We may look at ourselves in the mirror and lament that our forehead is too high or our ears are small or too large. These are little moments of micro analysis, as we instantly determine how our features measure in relation to other things. How much of this analytical critique is actually necessary in regarding the essence or character of the face or for that matter, the landscape?
A common remark about paintings is about its detail. Yet, many artists often remind themselves not to get hung up on the details. If I may use an example, The Mona Lisa by none other than DaVinci, the most famous and possibly greatest portraits of all time, captures the sitters mystery that beguiles us to this day some six hundred years later, yet the portrait itself may only be a contemporaneous characterization of the woman? For that matter, consider the lonely yet moving work of Edward Hopper, famous for his painting “Nighthawks“. A lot of importance is placed on determining the quality of a work of art by how accurate it is in the rendering of the scene. However, it is possible that the intrinsic impact toward the appeal of our emotion may be the real power behind a work deemed as great art, a quantity that often cannot be measured.