The Peekaboo Principle

Dear Artist, A few minutes ago I was watching a young couple staring at a huge abstract painting in a commercial art gallery. The painting was mysterious, dark, tentative — with perhaps, only perhaps, the whisper of a female figure. Previously, when I’d daringly checked out its very high price, a gallerista swept by and assured me, “We sell a lot of this man’s work.” Now I’m sitting on a bench eating coconut ice cream while keeping abreast of brain science on my iPad. V.S. Ramachandran is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, San Diego. Looking into various brains, including the brains of people who look at art, he’s come to the conclusion that things are better when they are less visible. He calls it “The Peekaboo Principle.” In his research, it seems that girls in scanty clothing are more appealing to the average straight male than girls in the buff. To be fair, these findings have been challenged by every frat house west of the Pecos. According to Ramachandran, concealment works because we are hardwired to solve puzzles. People get turned on by problem solving. Further, curiosity is more arousing than the part where you get the message. This is how Ramachandran explains the popularity of abstract art. It seems our tiny perfect brains are forever on the lookout for wizardry. He thinks we are hardwired for what he calls “ultranormal stimuli.” Yep, it’s a bit like religion — many people crave the possibilities of the transcendent, the divine, the paranormal. We have all thought about the mystery of why people desire such and such and not such and such. Some in the neuroscience business would have us all marching as zombies to the primordial echoes of our lizard or other cranial departments. Perhaps that’s why it feels good once in a while to hear someone say they liked a painting of a barn because it’s their barn. The young couple in the gallery moved over to the desk. They happened to be maxed out on their card, but the gallery was just willing to take a cheque. “I don’t know why we both love it,” the young woman said. “But we’re definitely taking it.” Best regards, Robert PS: “Perception is more like puzzle-solving than most people realize.” (V. S. Ramachandran, The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human) Esoterica: Many artists tell me they are totally not interested in what makes people buy their art. Some are even not interested in why they make art in the first place. These people are known as “link challenged.” I’m not one of them. Why did I choose the coconut over the Hawaiian Mud Pie? A lot of people were buying the HMP. For me, it was those little bits of coconut. They’re hidden in there. Those little bits are not fully disclosed at the beginning. You have to find them as you go along. Oops, a drip.   The slipping glimpse by Gina Koper, New York, NY, USA   This is really interesting. The Peekaboo Principle fits perfectly with deKooning who called it “the slipping glimpse.” This is exactly what deKooning discovered growing up around the seedy area of Rotterdam near the docks. When he was a boy, he liked to watch the whores who displayed themselves in windows. He noticed it was the prostitutes who merely “flashed” that were the most enticing. He said when the whole thing was on display you lose interest. See Stevens and Swan — DeKooning: An American Master. Great book! One of my faves.   Getting the message by Rick Rotante, Tujunga, CA, USA  

“Morning tea”
original painting
by Rick Rotante

I’m not sure this principle is entirely accurate. It doesn’t explain why people don’t see a message in every painting. My work is mostly allegorical. I like to tell a story, but few viewers of my work “get it,” whatever that “it” is. Now, if I’m exhibiting and someone asks me about a particular work, I tell them what the work represents, and then they see it. But, this could be auto-suggestion. A similar example is staring at cloud formations. They are filled with suggested imagery if you look long enough. I do believe that we are hardwired to make order of our lives and abstract work is akin to cloud images. If you stare long enough at most things, if you are a person with any imagination, you will see something where nothing exists. On the other hand I still am stumped as to the meaning of a black dot on a white canvas. Uh, nothing.     There are 7 comments for Getting the message by Rick Rotante
From: Richard Mazzarino — Feb 14, 2011

I like the odd placement of the figure in this work. Seems she is sharing importance with the picture frame and the still life and all is balanced out. Nice.

From: Susan Forbes — Feb 14, 2011

Is it my imagination or should there be a second arm somewhere??

From: Virginia Wieringa — Feb 15, 2011

When I looked quickly at the thumbnail, I thought she was ironing. I may need new glasses!

From: Anonymous — Feb 15, 2011

I also thought she was ironing! :)

From: Sally v.Smith, Mississippi — Feb 16, 2011

About “Morning Tea” – I get it. I have felt the same way many a morning when waking up after a rough night, knowing I have to go to work, have to put a happy face on at work….Yeah, I know how she feels. Only I am having a cup of coffee instead of tea.

From: Kim Steacy — Feb 16, 2011

I also thought she was ironing!

From: Rick Rotante — Feb 17, 2011

Richard M – Her eye looks to the painting. Her arm moves toward to the fruit. The tea pot almost touches the painting. I wanted a sense of movement or circle using these objects. The blue wall between all unifies the objects. When you look at this your eye wanders over these objects and doesn’t settle on the girl exclusively.

  Survival instincts by Helena Tiainen, Berkeley, CA, USA  

“In peaks and valleys”
mixed media painting
by Helena Tiainen

We are definitely hardwired to look for and try to find the hidden. This is perhaps where the true treasure in any piece of art is instead of in the obvious. I use my own paintings and drawings as a kind of a mirror. Once completed I tend to find new recognizable forms in most of my more recent paintings and drawings. But these types of puzzles also exist in nature. If you spend time looking at a landscape, the plants and other elements, trees and rocks, etc., you will often see animal and other recognizable forms that shift when the light shifts. Maybe the puzzle-solving and fascination with this is deeply linked with our survival. After all, spotting a prowling predator hiding in the bushes can save one’s life. But the illusionary nature of light-play can also protect a predator from being spotted until it is too late for the prey. It could be that all nature is constantly playing a game of masquerade and peekaboo. I can only speak for myself but I definitely instantly mirror my mind and emotions on how I perceive my immediate surroundings as well as anything I observe. This to me is constant, unavoidable and fascinating. The tricks your mind can play on you are as endless as your own imagination! There is 1 comment for Survival instincts by Helena Tiainen
From: Ron — Feb 15, 2011

I really like the flow and the colors used in this piece.

  Mystery, mythology and mastery by Joseph Jahn, Nibe, Denmark  

“Morning at The Farm”
original painting
by Joseph Jahn

Mystery prolongs the life of any painting. A time travel interview with Leonardo would be very detrimental to the mythology and attraction of the Mona Lisa. Of course the mystery of the painting must be combined with the mastery of the execution for the experience to slice through the thinking mind of the viewer and appeal directly to the personal mystery of the viewer’s experiences. Then you have an irresistible marriage of forces. The thing viewed and the viewer. The artist is superfluous at this point. Just a vehicle for the viewer. The one that painted what the viewer had always contained within themselves. Some viewers are very surprised by this feeling of connection with a painting and some are very familiar with the experience. Glad the gallery accepted checks. There are 3 comments for Mystery, mythology and mastery by Joseph Jahn
From: Anonymous — Feb 15, 2011

A great painting!

From: Liz Reday — Feb 15, 2011

That is a delicious painting. I love the mystery.

From: E. S. Senger — Feb 15, 2011

Great example of the role of the viewer to “find” the subject matter. Why do patrons perpetually ask, “What is it?” and what do you answer when they do?

  Visual puzzles by Laurel Knight, Bend, OR, USA  

“Twist of fate”
oil painting
by Laurel Knight

I just finished a show where I had a large amount of my work displayed, including an original painting titled Twist of Fate. This show was mainly for wildlife and related subjects and yet this painting of five depression era men was the biggest draw. People came from aisles around just to see the painting and the hidden celebrities’ faces. I had thought that it might be a well received painting for a select group but to my surprise, everyone regardless of age and gender came up to me to see if their guess of the hidden identities was correct! What smiles and joy I saw on the faces of all who observed it, and I know that by figuring out the puzzle of who is who was the draw to that painting! I am sure most of us have heard of Bev Doolittle, her visual puzzles are still talked about. There are 7 comments for Visual puzzles by Laurel Knight
From: Cristina Monier — Feb 15, 2011

The painting is not bad, the faces of the actors is absurd, the thumbnail looked much better than the close up.

From: Darla — Feb 15, 2011

Very interesting painting. Buyers love paintings that have some puzzle about the; that can be “conversation pieces”.

From: Jeffrey J. Boron — Feb 15, 2011

I was immediately drawn to the thumbnail of your wonderful painting Laurel. I really like how you composed this piece and the overall pallette used. While looking at it enlarged I found myself smiling. Good job!! Jeffrey

From: Ron — Feb 15, 2011

that’s a little harsh Cristina.

From: Ping — Feb 15, 2011

Cristina, I went and looked at your website and can’t help but think your unwanted critique comes from a place where green eyed monsters reside. Maybe you could spend a little less time giving your opinion (that incidently no one asked for) and more time improving your own painting skills.

From: Wanda Coffey — Feb 15, 2011

I love this painting. I too, smiled looking at it. I think I recognized a couple of the men. I like detail in a painting and you have done this one with gusto and it looks very good enlarged.

From: gail caduff-nash — Feb 21, 2011

It is ‘puzzling’ why someone thinks you need to be critiqued. I can imagine that people enjoyed your work because there is not much to be said for wildlife artwork. I say that having been a wildlife artist. People gawk. People admire. And then people look for the wine. Yours was a pleasant diversion. And some pretty nice work, too.

  Uncovering the psyche and the heart by Mary Jane Q Cross, Newport, NH, USA  

“Sing Over Me”
original painting
by Mary Jane Q Cross

Dr Ramachandran may be doing his research, but perhaps is not going deep enough? The uncovering of the figure is more than the suggestion of removal of clothing. It can stop there and it will be the suggestion of an erotic nature. Or in Historical Biblical or just plain good Art with staying power (200 plus years and still captivating) it can be the deeper uncovering of the psyche and the heart. One can be said to be magic or as you wizardry or as you hit perfectly the Hope of the Divine. But taking it deeper is perhaps the man thing with the clothes or the woman thing having her heart uncovered. I do love paintings where men uncover the heart of women. Men artists and women artists have different perspectives to offer. I will take the Hope any day.     There are 13 comments for Uncovering the psyche and the heart by Mary Jane Q Cross
From: Marney Ward — Feb 14, 2011

Love the painting, esp. the light on the hair and the flowers and the edges of the body. The whole thing works up to one feeling of bliss and surrender, possibly to the warmth of the sun, to love, to the beauty of the flowers or the day. It communicates those feelings to the viewer and stops us for a moment out of time.

From: Stephanie Vagvolgyi — Feb 14, 2011

A beautiful piece, Mary Jane.

From: Joseph Jahn — Feb 15, 2011

Bravo, it’s always a pleasure to see someone that can truly paint.

From: Paul deMarrais — Feb 15, 2011

a beautiful painting! Reminds me a bit of the great ‘naturalist’ painter Jules Bastien LePage with the beautiful neutral color and masterful edges. This painting definitely says something to me. It speaks of the powerful inspiration that we men get from women. We want to capture that quality, but it is illusive and like beauty in general, it cannot be captured. It’s the mirage in the desert.

From: Brenda W. — Feb 15, 2011

This, to me, is a ref. to Zephaniah 3:17 b – “He will rejoice over you with singing” …. beautifully expressed here in this painting!

From: Cristina Monier — Feb 15, 2011

Lovely, you really know how to paint, congratulations!

From: Anonymous — Feb 15, 2011

Thank you from the Artist for these gracious comments about my fingerpainting work. Brenda,Yes, to the reference from Zephniah that God Sings Over us as on a day of festival.It speaks of Divine joy about us His Creation. Paul,Truly Jules Baptien LePage “Joan of Ark in the garden of her parents” was a was an inspiration and example to me for 30 years. My storytelling work is 95% painted with my fingers because of difficulty holding a brush.The remainder is with prosthetics that I have invented. The artists brain is a remarkable magnet to making beauty that resonates with others as I have experienced reading these comments. Thank you

From: Anonymous — Feb 15, 2011

absolutely beautiful work!! I was so inspired looking upon it…thank you for sharing with us.

From: Anonymous — Feb 15, 2011

The painting says it all, quite beautiful on all or any level. To me it speaks of sorrow, vulnerability and the utter fragility of life, all life. Perhaps that is the measure of a painting’s success, the ability to speak a different message to each person, that the painting or the art engages. Thank you.

From: kathy kvach — Feb 15, 2011

Have been trying to think of the perfect words to describe this painting — beautiful, glorious, joyful seem to fit best

From: Jan Ross — Feb 15, 2011

I agree, this is a very special and beautiful painting! I love the many textures, the colors, and the halo light. I wonder what the young woman is thinking about?

From: Lynn Quinn — Feb 16, 2011

Mary Jane, this is gorgeous! I’ve always loved that verse, as well!

From: Douglas Newman — Feb 26, 2011

Such life! And, love of life, displayed so magnificently in this wonderful painting! Very touching.

  Childlike thrill of discovery by Chris Riley, Edmonton, AB, Canada   For sure this turns me on like crazy. Puzzle solving, discovery, mystery and surprise. I thought it was because I was the youngest and hated things being done for me and still do. I’ve always loved treasure hunts and dumpster diving in antique barns and thrift stores, Winners and Google. Maybe it’s the same thing. “Don’t tell me! I wanna find it.” The childlike thrill when you’ve made the discovery. When my eyes scan over a well layered painting with plenty of drips and windows I think. How brave. I tell my husband, “Look how brave this artist is. He says, “Honey, soldiers are brave.” Is it strange to aspire to the compliment of bravery in your work? I think not. I’m mostly bored by paintings that tell the whole story, unless it’s a fascinating story told by a master of his or her craft.   Creating eye-puzzles by Elizabeth Schamehorn, Washago, ON, Canada  

original painting
by Elizabeth Schamehorn

I try to create what I call an “eye-puzzle” in my work. People are always seeing things in the painting that I didn’t consciously put there. After they’ve looked for a few moments, I tell them the back story on a painting. They say “Oh, yeah!” and focus on it even harder. I don’t spell everything out for the viewer; I like to give them something for their brain to play with. Some would still rather have familiarity, but even in the most photorealist of painting, there is more interest with a little mystery. An art student I know (Not me. I wish I’d thought of it!) was painting pleasant green realist landscapes of a riverbank. When she added an upturned boat, in slightly different positions in each painting, the series suddenly gained serious coolness.     Linguistic labels by Robin Tondra  

“When dogs go to the beach”
original painting
by Robin Tondra

This is why people have to “make something” out of an abstract. I rarely look for things in a painting that aren’t really there. I just like looking at the art. I have found that the title of a painting, particularly a non-directional work, can make or break a sale or a ribbon. People want the work to have a meaning. They cannot tolerate the idea that there is not a message, but only the subjective experience of the artist and the viewer. I usually do my work because it is pleasing to me and I like the outcome. I like to experiment. Further, I don’t have something in mind that I am trying to represent. When I finish, one of the most creative things is coming up with a title that captures the essence of the piece and will intrigue people. Actually it is frustrating to have to do this because I would like for people to accept something without some sort of linguistic label. Non-directional art is just that — without direction toward a concrete reality. But I think people are unable to trust their own intuition and experiences. So often I have artists comment on my work by saying, “Oh, I see an angel here” or “a horse there.” Even artists are compelled to find something concrete in the work. I love to just look at it. I don’t try to “see” things in it. I like it just the way it is. There are 2 comments for Linguistic labels by Robin Tondra
From: Joseph Jahn — Feb 15, 2011

This has also been my thinking for a long time, but now I’m moving over to the idea that titles maybe a good thing and an extension of the mystery. Practically speaking it also helps when someone is referring to a painting that isn’t present. When the gallery calls up and says, that painting sold, ya know the red one (out of 5 red paintings at the gallery),……

From: gail caduff-nash — Feb 21, 2011

I’m with you on this, generally. I can’t even see symbolism. It’s lost on me. However, I’ve ‘found’ things in my own work that I wasn’t aware were there until later. And some artists really resonate with me that do abstracted stuff. But it’s true that art with titles such as “She lay dreaming on sands of Martian warmth” or “the transcendental lives of kumquats” really seem to sell paintings. Maybe to people with no imaginations of their own?


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The Peekaboo Principle

From: Marvin Humphrey — Feb 10, 2011

The techniques of making a work of art involve two things: 1.) Certain rules to follow (i.e. fat over lean), and 2.) That mysterious component, the experimental intuitive portion, which can be the icing on the cake. Viewers are intrigued by this enigmatic aspect in varying degrees.

From: Darla — Feb 11, 2011

Art has to have a creator and an audience/viewer. Both bring something to the experience. If the artist delineates every last detail, the viewer has to remain passive, and that’s boring. If you leave some things undefined, there is room for the viewer to use his own imagination. And imagined things are always more desirable than reality! I love to hear the stories viewers come up with when they look at my paintings.

From: Nathalie Bertin — Feb 11, 2011

This is a topic I’ve been pondering a lot lately. It’s important to me to know WHY people like or dislike my art. But it’s only important to me that a buyer loves my art. It doesn’t bother me if people dislike my work so long as I know why. If it’s the subject matter, then I really don’t care (I can paint what I want!) but if it’s because they think my work is substandard, then I take note that maybe I should see about making improvements. I also know why I create art — because it’s stronger than me and I have to do it. It’s not just the creativity, it’s the freedom to explore and discover things both technical and spiritual. It is, indeed, a puzzle that I can’t help but want to figure out. And it’s fun and exciting. Finally, in my neck of the woods, it seems only the type of art that sells around here are the barns and the flower paintings. And horses. Nothing wrong with those but I believe it’s a reflection of the area itself. It’s not really that inspiring – it’s one of those terrible bedroom communities that sprawled out of farmland. Most residents commute to the big city to sit in a cubicle. Those who buy art in town buy the “traditional” stuff, I’m told because it’s familiar and suits the region and they want to fit in. The others go to the big city to buy more abstract work because, I’m told, they either had no idea there were abstract artists in the area, or they find the art in the big city is better because it comes from the big city. (Either way, I’m looking forward to moving away. In the meantime, thank goodness for the internet!)

From: Dwight — Feb 11, 2011
From: Kate Jackson — Feb 11, 2011

I love hearing people’s comments about my abstract art! They find things in there I never knew I put in there, which is even more fun! It reminds them of something, someone, some place I’ve never seen, known, or been…consciously!

From: Len Platt — Feb 11, 2011

Your latest article on the Peekaboo Principle is very interesting and it got me to thinking. Three different paintings I have painted which included fog, sold fairly quickly and I didn’t think they were exceptional paintings. But in retrospect now, I believe what people were attracted to was the fact that something in the scenes was partly hidden or obscured by fog. Thanks for unraveling this mystery.

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt — Feb 11, 2011

While it may be exciting to have some elements of mystery in a work of art but if it does not enhance the composition or if it is not related to the theme it maybe detracting from the quality of the work. The appeal of a certain piece of art is in the beholder but to generalize that people are always geared for solving puzzles or that the male of the species are only interested in the specific stimulus is I think is not right. Some people like the gentle touch of the breeze over the gale and a pleasing design rather than chaotic. As in the T.V. show “different strokes” not everyone is the same, people have different personalities, different interests. It would be sad indeed if we are all lumped as one unthinking creature. The brain is the greatest computer of all but does not work uniformly in every person. I would like to believe that a person is unique. To think that everyone is devoid of individual thought then we are robots without a brain.

From: Susan Bainbridge — Feb 11, 2011
From: Alan Soffer — Feb 11, 2011

I think mystery and venturing to new places, especially if unknown always grabs us. It reminds me of a monologue that Orson Bean did many years ago. The gist was that a nude woman on the beach is not as provocative as one scantily clad. If we are doing our best, we manage to disclose a place or idea that we haven’t seen before, though it was always right in front of us.

From: Bruce C. Meyer — Feb 11, 2011

I heard one man say this, and found it to be true. That when he had a nude model, all was well and good and normal, but during breaks, when the model wore a robe, he was strongly tempted to try to see down the opening of the robe in front. The artist who was speaking noticed that this was irrational, because he had just seen her naked and was going to do so again after break.

From: Mona Youssef — Feb 11, 2011

Some people are attracted to what is mysterious and “ultra-normal stimuli” while others may look for what is spelled out. Since life is full of issues calling attention to be solved, nature and realistic art offer the relaxing and peaceful escape from such struggle. Feelings of relaxation can be achieved by using meditations and modern medicine confirms that meditation positively influences the nervous system. While the brain seeks challenges and stimuli, people need energy renewal from nature. The renewal process releases helpful hormones in our brains and takes one to deeper visions and deeper thoughts. When we are absorbed in creating detailed shapes, colors and sizes, this fires our brains, sparks curiosity and our decision making process. Realism art is a multiple intelligence task that discovers reality, looks for the best in everything and in others and finds ethics in ourselves. António Damásio, the well-known and awarded Portuguese neurologist thinks that the vision of human beings as a whole, is the key to the global development of the being. The ideal situation is that we use all the potentialities of the brain, so rich (Realism) and so surprising (Abstract)! The Peekaboo!!

From: Peter Hobden — Feb 13, 2011

It is not only in abstract painting that the “uncertainty principle” is true, I have noticed that some people enjoy figurative paintings where certain shapes have to be resolved by the viewer “filling in” details which are either not present or only suggested.

From: John F. Johnson — Feb 13, 2011

Peek-a-boo, I see you, too! Thanks for your continually stimulating conversations. You are always finding interesting topics to focus on. Doublejay Visions Art Studio

From: Alex Nodopaka — Feb 13, 2011

There always come a time when the peek-a-boo principle fails. It is when man loses his balls and I wish a new Nefertiti or a Cleopatra took centerfold in the history of that part of the world geography. Preferably not naked the ways the bunny magazine are forgotten from one month to the next. It pays to be provocatively yet partially denuded. Now when you write a report on that naked subject watch me jump on your bandwagon… lol

From: Linda Saccoccio — Feb 13, 2011

I agree with V.S. Ramachandran. The mystery is what hooks me, both in the making of art and the appreciating of it. An art scholar once began to write about me and my work and he used the word wizard as well. There is something completely magical and ecstatic in creating art that speaks or sings, and is not completely definable. It remains open, inviting interaction. I love the poetry and the quality of play in the game.

From: Gavin Logan — Feb 13, 2011

Artists do well to understand that “emergent” or “partially appearing” subject matter is far more inviting to human perception than the bold faced facts.

From: Norman Nelson — Feb 13, 2011

Oops, a drip.

From: G. B. Singe Nardhal — Feb 13, 2011
From: Bobbo Goldberg — Feb 14, 2011
From: Jacque — Feb 15, 2011

Concerning “Twist of Fate”. What a cool painting! I love it!

From: Sue Coleman — Feb 15, 2011

A very interesting theory. I have often wondered why my work became so popular and why it has held such a fascination for people. I do it because it fascinates me but never really pursued the reason why they sold so well. I have had many critics who have slammed the work as ‘not Art’ but I still enjoy exploring native legends and stories then creating an interpretive art piece. Many of these pieces have become very commercial even though that was not my original intention. Some of my later pieces are leaning to the abstract and are also attracting buyers. Your article may explain why some artists work is far more popular than others. I know myself that I love puzzles. Sue

From: Tim Bednar — Feb 15, 2011

Doggone it, now I’m going to be burying some little Waldo in all my paintings. Ya gone and pulled my string!

From: Patti Adams — Feb 16, 2011

I used alot of hidden symbolism in my paintings for a recent production of Mozart’s Magic Flute for the New Orleans Opera. In one scene in particular, featuring the three temples of Nature, Wisdom, and Reason, I used familiar New Orleans landmarks (three iconic tombs from our famous Greenwood Cemetery, or what we locals fondly call The City of the Dead) and hidden iconography on all of the gates to the temples as well. The limbs of the live oak trees above the “temples” also carried a hidden message for the audience: Live oaks are never without their leaves, unless something like a two hundred mile an hour wind has torn them off, as happened after Hurricane Katrina. Any New Orleanian looking at a live oak tree without leaves is subconsciously uncomfortable – a feeling I wanted to convey in this scene. The gates to the Temple of Wisdom are filled with musical symbolism and yes, that’s a bust of Mozart sitting atop the roof. The Temple of Nature features a well known gate from our City Park Botanical Garden and The Temple of Reason has many hidden Masonic symbols (an important element in this opera and in Mozart’s life) and its gate is filled with mathematical symbols as well. In fact, in the days leading up to the opera’s opening, the PR department had a scavenger hunt of sorts with this painting: find where these three temples are located in the cemetery and win free tickets to the opera performance! Designing the paintings for all the scenes of Mozart’s Magic Flute was truly a dream come true for this flutist/painter, (I also played in the opera orchestra during the performances!) but finding opportunities for hidden messages in my artwork made it even more special an experience. Indeed, Mozart was my inspiration since he did the same thing throughout the opera’s music and libretto! You can see all the opera paintings on my website:

From: Rick Rotante — Feb 17, 2011

Some are getting the wrong idea and are going to look for “hidden messages” similar to the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.” But what everyone should be concentrating on is the symbolism of good design which should be found in all “good” painting. The way the artist used color to dramatize or movement in the piece or differences in object sizes to enforce a point. To piant deliberately to move the viewers eyes to land on points the painter intented. This is truly the hidden meaning in good work not some gimmick or trick. A great painting is more than hidden messages. Lastly, many viewers of art attach personal meanings and hidden symbols to suit themselves.

From: Adrienne Moore — Feb 19, 2011

I had painted realistically for years and I became bored with the same plein air and still life renderings after a while.I was lucky to be involved for many years with the experimental painters of America. I enjoyed the workshops and learned a lot of interesting information on new materials available which were not easily accessible when I graduated from college.I was suddenly engaged with what amazing new textures ,interesting new materials , transfers ,multi layering and so many overwhelming ideas that could help make my work more interesting . With mixed media I was determined to experiment further. I spent more than a decade working on abstract painting techniques. . I did not however ignore the other areas of my craft …life drawing, outdoor workshops and I feel that the whole integration seems to build a stronger body of work.because when I explored the possibilities I discovered ways to keep enriching my paintings with stronger colour and I was always willing to take risks.. I feel that the abstract expressionistic works that I am currently working on have proved to be the most challenging as they entail all the elements of a first class realistic piece of work, namely composition, values etc which need to be addressed in either a realistic work or an abstract painting . It is so stimulating to walk in to a gallery and hear what the viewer has to say because on an abstract piece it is for the viewer to see what they can enjoy about this piece and that is not in conflict with the pure pleasure another buyer needs to add the barn to their collection……it is all a very personal taste in any piece of work,I am, as an artist, aware that my choice to paint what I enjoy means that I dared to take a chance and paint what pleases me and I feel strongly that money and the market is only a small part of this.

From: gail caduff-nash — Feb 21, 2011

Very perceptive and intriguing. I’ve dented this concept a bit after an instructor taught me about painting “lost & found” lines in my work – that the viewer’s mind likes to fill those in. It really does work better. I stopped wanting to know what people thought (except certain people) about my work when I realized that it had nothing to do with me! What they think is their own experience, not mine. The certain people I might ask to comment, I ask because they offer up some useful criticism that might be helpful to me. But for the rest – like it, don’t like it, just BUY it! I’m sure some of my work is gracing a bathroom or in a yard sale by now while others are really enjoyed. All my pieces are like children to me and I always hope their custodians will take good care of them. But once they leave the house, well, they’re on their own. I’ve never sold one to someone who wanted to change it. And last, I like this article because it helps explain my own brain to me more – why i always ask why, for instance. Why so many things require answers. Why I like painting – such a visceral sport that expects a lot of questioning. Good points.

From: Linda Berg — Apr 03, 2011

I think they look great Tony

From: dan — Jul 29, 2011

no offense, but that whole load of lines you just wrote is all bollocks based around a the obvious notion that the human brain admires more than reality. sorry for the abrasive tone. xx

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Fleur du Jour

original painting by Hope Hebert, LA, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Tova Gabrielle of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, who wrote, “Life is like a canvas. Nine out of ten are warm ups.” And also Sharon Sedeen of Berkeley Springs, WV, USA, who wrote, “Loved This! or should I say !Siht Devol?” And also Bev Rodin of Toronto, ON, Canada, who wrote, “Coconut creates a positive mood, and I love coconut, coconut cream pie, coconut yogurt, coconut on Thai green curry, oatmeal coconut cookies.”