Who is not moved by the breathtaking sight of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or by an imposing Roman aqueduct? And, if you are a painter you are likely to be motivated to capture such majestic sceneries onto your canvas. As a fellow painter once said with true conviction, “if I just start with a great composition, a great scene, a great model, my work is half done!” Is it?
Choosing to paint an impressive scenery does not guaranty a grand painting. I often see artists struggle to recreate such sceneries only to end up frustrated and terribly disappointed. Perhaps sticking to more humble subject matters might be quite rewarding.
The beauty of the Grand Canyon is obvious and great beauty is indeed inspiring. Yet, beauty can be found in a rain drop, a snow flake or in the smile of a child. William Wordsworth’s poem Splendor in the Grass comes to mind.
An artist is privileged to be in a unique position to find beauty in the seemingly ordinary and to communicate it to others. An artist can be both an explorer and a magician. Look at Cézanne’s apples, Van Gogh’s flowers, Morandi’s vases; look at the abstract compositions of Joan Mitchell! Such works of art are to me as breathtaking as the Grand Canyon.