At The National Gallery a number of years ago, I stood in front of this painting - Girl in Red, by Edgar Degas. I had seen it many times before in books and while studying art history in college, but seeing it in person was overwhelming. The sheer size of it, the direct gaze from the girl’s eyes, the commanding presence it held over the room, it brought me to tears. The emotion surprised me a little and I quickly sniffed back the tears and dabbed at my eyes. I hadn’t felt any particular attachment to this piece before that moment, but it was a powerful reminder to me that Art has the ability to move you.
This may sound Woo Woo, but there is energy in Art. This piece, for example…infused with positive energy! Degas spent many, many hours applying layers of paint. Many hours gazing at the subject. There is emotion involved, there is a chunk of LIFE involved – for the model as well as the artist. The painting vibrates with that life. It knocked me over emotionally. In truth it brought me joy, because the tears were happy tears. To me it was beautiful art but wrapped up in that was the glimpse into that moment in time, from my little moment standing in front of the portal that took me there. I was profoundly touched.
The emotional energy in a work can also be negative. I have a friend who had a large piece in her main living area that was an impressive focal point. She paid quite a lot for it, but something about this piece made her uneasy. She invited a few trusted friends over one night, sat us on her couch, and asked us to tell her about her painting. How did it make us feel? What did we think of when we looked at it?
After sitting there “taking it in,’ we told her what we saw, and none of it was good. It was an abstract, but we saw things that to us looked like angry faces – the piece just felt evil. I can’t explain it beyond that. She took it down, cut it up with a knife, and fed it into the fire burning in her fireplace. When I asked her why she wasn't going to try to resell it, she replied that the work should not exist.
More examples are coming, but I'll save them for another post. For now, pay attention to what you surround yourself with and how it affects you!