If My Eye Offends Thee

The Artist’s Eye

Is there a painting or sculpture you’re drawn to? What does it say to you? Describe the experience. (Or, if art doesn’t speak to you, tell us why.)


One Summer I decided to learn about art, paintings and sculptures. So I studied the works of various artists-and found I  wasn’t partial to any at the time.

Then I took  class and ended up at a gallery.

It turned out that even though it was an Introduction class, most of the people in it could have taught the class themselves. Or maybe the ones who didn’t know about art kept their mouths shut because they were intimidated and were able to look really smart.

I’m sure I was coming across as one of the dogs who tilts their head to the side when you talk to them- but what the heck, I was there to learn.

As we went from painting to painting,  people in the class took turns impressing each other with their knowledge. It was hard to sort it out, but it sounded like they were saying the same thing.

I finally sucked it up and I volunteered some info about what I saw and wouldn’t you know it? I was looking at the painting I had read about the artist, I scanned the cheat sheet- I mean ” program” they handed out at the door but was told I didn’t understand what what the painting was ” saying”.

From that point it went on.

I had never been called stupid in so many classy big words in my life.

I felt like a door had been slammed shut in my face.

Fine, I thought. That’s just fine.

Pompous jerks- why on Earth would I spend my hard earned money to be called ignorant…excuse me ” a novice…ho ho ho. “

It was years before I went into another gallery again.


It seems fitting that after being banished from the world of art, I should be welcomed  back by this painting:


This is Lucifer by Franz Von Stuck.

He was hanging on a wall, in a place of prominence- or maybe it just felt that way on the day I saw it for the first time.

It was funny because people wouldn’t walk up to it and stare- they didn’t walk around it and stand in different spots on the floor to observe it the way you’re supposed to in order to see the painting from different perspectives ( I actually liked learning to do that ).

It was the biggest, loneliest picture in the room- given that I had no idea it was such a famous picture- but I knew I liked it because I understood it and I’m not going to eat it and  say  I’m wrong.

As I stood there admiring Lucifer, I saw the anger, the loneliness and the defiance of his situation. Maybe nobody wanted to be reminded how easy it is to be in that place. I don’t think anyone wants to be in that situation- and they probably don’t want to be at the receiving end of that anger burning in those yellow eyes.

Some of us have cast aside people we claimed to love, to care about. We have all held someone up and that dropped them to the depths of Hell and watched them burn.

If I were such a person, I don’t think I’d like this picture-because somewhere is someone thinking of you with the same exact look on their face.

I guarantee it.

Now there’s a thought that would scare the Hell out of people.


Since that day I have become a great admirer of Von Stuck. I love his paintings- the stories they tell, and I don’t really care if I’m ‘wrong’ or if I’m not seeing it the ‘right way’.

I’ve gone on to admire other works- but Franz is my favorite because he opened the door to a world that had been closed to me and my life has become a little richer for it.

Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach

Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach

As a writer I have learned that good stories take on a life of their own- that when someone reads your work and they  see it in their head, you know you’ve struck a chord and your story will live.

It goes out into the world and grows and spawns new ideas and other work.

If you’re an artist, isn’t that what you want?

Or am I not seeing this the ‘right way’?


6 thoughts on “If My Eye Offends Thee

  1. Sometimes those who view art can tell an artist a thing or two about what their piece means. I think good art…or successful art…or art that communicates…always means more than the artist consciously knows it means.

      • Love the way you put it!!! That’s why so many times I hear my own stories, embellished and presented as someone else’s. We all do this, I think. We forget which things in our brains are memories, which are inventions, which are things we’ve overheard!!!

  2. I thought art was meant to bring out different feelings in different people. There are art snobs just like there are music snobs, wine snobs and anything else we can think of snobs.

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