Monday, March 3, 2014

Art, photography and imagery

by Joan

Photo by Rick Mora
Once upon a time, I was an art major. Never mind that I have little artistic talent; I imagined myself in a seaside cottage with paintbrush, palette and canvas. That lasted for one semester, quick enough to realize I was in the wrong major, long enough to feel sophisticated about sketching live nudes. (I heard they made good money, but who were those models with the nerve to undress in front of thirty students, anyway?)

Although I gave up my dream of being a visual artist, my passion developed into a lifelong love of art and imagery. I am drawn to art on the page, to literature, to life revealed in my mind’s eye. 

Some of my favorite books feature artists, real or imagined: Susan Vreeland’s Passion of Artemisia, Rosamunde Pilcher’s Shell Seekers, Sarah Stonich’s Ice Chorus, Tracy Chevalier's Girl with the Pearl Earring, among many others (including Kim's).

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have visited many of the world’s greatest galleries. If you've ever tried to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art in one day, you know there’s never enough time to appreciate every painting. Often I felt that combination of gallery fatigue and guilt that author Tracy Chevalier describes in her wonderful TED talk: “Finding the story inside the painting.” (do yourself a favor and take 15 minutes to watch).
Photo by Rick Mora

You might not think Tracy Chevalier would get gallery fatigue. After all, she must have spent hours staring at Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring” while writing her gorgeous novel. In fact she did. But just as we can’t read every book in a bookstore before choosing one, we can’t truly see and appreciate every painting in a gallery. “I pinpoint the ones that make me slow down,” Chevalier says. “I stand in front of that painting and I tell myself a story about it.”

Photo by Rick Mora

Paintings inspire stories, yes, but photography does as well. 

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second,” said French photographer Marc Riboud.

Water reflections, Photo by Rick Mora

Saturday we visited the Botanical Gardens of Fort Worth. It was early for blooms, but the first day of a remarkable butterfly exhibit. In a hundredth of a second, Rick captured tiny wings that looked like they’d been drawn by an artist. He captured a moment with two ducks synchronize swimming and another with a heron jaw-wrestling a fish and swallowing it whole (not pictured).

In this lovely reflection of water, I see a story. I see a nun hiding (bottom right), perhaps holding a basket of coconuts or a baby. I see Father Winter blinking, or perhaps it's Saint Nicholas (mid-frame). In between those two, I see a zebra, or is it a white horse behind bars? There's a story waiting to be told. 

Eudora Welty said, "A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away." Snap an image that speaks to you and write it how you see it.


  1. Funny the timing of this post, Joan. I've had a strange urge lately to get out and about with my camera. I actually took some photos in my back yard the other day, but the itch was hardly scratched. Love Rick's photography, as always, as well as your interpretation of it.

  2. Pamela - thanks! You should definitely get out there - you have a unique view and we'd love to see it.


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