I love how my art touches people. It’s always interesting to me to hear how people relate to my work. Sometimes they relate in a positive manner and it causes tears and great emotion. Sometimes, it causes tears because they relate from a deeper place of sadness.
This week was a great example to me that my work can be interpreted so differently. I did a piece called “Journey On”. It was an inspirational piece to me. I painted it in a time of struggle. My parents had moved in with me while my dad was going through cancer treatment. I craved nature and solitude. My world felt very dramatic at the time. I painted a landscape. A red foreground. An inviting scene to me with a path that goes over a hill. A sort of seduction of what might be over the hill. Red for the intensity I was feeling at the time. My desperation to get out of my current state and into a happier place. The piece was inviting. I wanted to go hiking among fall leaves. I wanted to touch the bark of the rough trees. It was a happy piece for me.
I have had many people describe something similar to me when looking at it. It bringing thoughts of calm, of invitation, and of a desire to see what is beyond the hill. I was asked to print it on the cover of Evolve Magazine because it symbolized that months issue of retirement. Of cresting a life period and moving on into the unknown of the next.
This week, I got a different interpretation. I was hanging a show at a law firm. I was asked specifically not to bring this piece. It has long sold so it wasn’t an issue, but it did make me curious why this was requested. Normally everyone loves this painting. I was told the piece seemed too violent. The clients were sensitive to violence and many emotional issues that were visiting the firm. They thought that this piece could be misinterpreted. It could provoke thoughts of blood on the ground and it was too emotional for the office.
I was a little astounded at this interpretation. I had never thought of my own work like that. It actually made me a little sad that someone could be in such a state that this painting would create that reaction.
After a few days of pondering it, I still love that my paintings often provoke such emotion. I love that each person takes what they need from it. Often I painting things and only after hearing other peoples interpretations do I fully understand what the painting means to me and what I was trying to convey.