‘You Had Me at Renoir”
Recently, I was thinking about the first painting that I saw as a small child. It was inside the pages of a larger volume set of books that had been ordered for the family. I barely recall sitting upon the floor with the excitement and awe of opening a Christmas present. I thought then that this was the most interesting image I had yet seen, comparable I guess to today’s child with his first iPad screen in front of him, or the way we all felt the first time Steve Jobs introduced us to the latest version of the most recent Apple gadget.
It has been many years since that introduction to art. I did not have any idea of the impact that that small print would have upon my life. The girl pictured in the center of the painting was so different from me. I could tell that she was dressed as if she had lived many generations before, and I was fascinated with learning as much as I could about her. Who is she? What is she carrying in her hands? Why does she look so happy? Where is she from?
I didn’t know then that I would always love art, and later in my life, I would gain satisfaction from sharing it with my students and others while traveling abroad to places in France, where the little girl in the painting was born. Upon further investigation, I would discover that she was the subject of the artist Renoir, who painted with arthritic hands wrapped to prevent skin irritation while holding his brushes in his later years. It wasn’t until this year that I realized that a quote attributed to this artist would become my own purpose of painting. It is written that the artist once said that he wished to create art that would make others see the happier side of life, that there was enough of the ugliness. That was in the nineteenth century, yet it could easily apply to the twenty-first as well.
In the comments following this post, which one had you at hello? (You don’t have to be an artist or even know a lot about it to answer.) Where did you first get your introduction to an artwork that grabbed you, even if in a subtle way? I would love it if you would share your experience, and your reaction to it with me.
If you wish to comment on any of my paintings that may resonate with you, visit the collection at http://www.kandycross.com. Your purchases from this or the shop help me in my support of cancer-ending research.