Ars longa, vita brevis

When we were young, we had a collection of movies that my mom had edited for language and adult situations. She even edited “Aladdin” because the parrot had a bad attitude. At the same time, we knew plenty about anatomy, due in part to our plentiful medical and art books dissecting the human form. When I went to college and took a first amendment law class, the special dispensations given for science and art in the realm of free speech made sense to me; science and art, in theory, did not cater to prurient interest. And they didn’t get edited out of movies.

Someone asked me once, when I was about 8, what I thought about the fact that a painting of me as a naked infant was up on the walls of a museum in Indiana. I shrugged; I didn’t care. Who cares about that sort of thing? It’s a nice painting.

As an adult, I’ve posed for a few art classes… not nude, but not in street wear, either. I was totally comfortable with this unless someone who was not supposed to be there wandered into the art studio. The intent artists’ eyes caught form, light, skin and muscle over bone, the drape of fabric. I was captured (perhaps briefly) in the generic black-and-white of chalk, of charcoal. I focused on not moving, counting to a hundred in French or in German. Not moving for 20 minutes at a time is hard work.

One of these sessions spurred another painting that was accepted into the national Oil Painters of America show, which opens June 10 in Coeur d’Alene. I suppose it’s a bit funny to know the person in any painting, because suddenly the painting is less the painting and more some version of the person. Perhaps that’s why so many works of art are idealized. And why so many people hate paparazzi and bad photos of themselves.

One thought on “Ars longa, vita brevis

  1. Someone asked me the other day if they were seeing me in the painting you referenced. I had to tell them my lovely model is not me.

    But I think an artist puts a little of his or her own likeness in a painting, so perhaps it’s hard to say who the model is.

    The brave and patient models who pose for artists are themselves, of course, but when seen through the eyes of the artist, they are also often an ideal, or an idea. They can be inspiration too: the muse.

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