Tuesday, August 23, 2005

At Home With the Paterfamilias

I am visiting the parents this week in Sarasota, Florida, and out my window as I type this on my father's old Dell laptop (which has a "t" which only works 20% of the time), there is wind-dappled water: the abode of anhingas, ospreys, and several varieties of heron, all poking about trying to make a living. This is my last week of vacation for 2005, and I have enjoyed the time away. I spent some of that time admiring my father's work, and creating a website/blog for him.

The work I am admiring is his portraiture. An example of one of his oil paintings is above. There are many other examples of his work at his website: Franklin G. Petersen, Portrait Artist.

Right now he is beginning a new portrait, and it still astounds me that even though it is in the initial stages of composition, with only a first layer of paint, he has captured the essence of the person. Which leads me to think about how art reveals that which is indispensable about someone or something. The word "essence" (from the Latin, esse) is derived from the Latin and Greek words "to be." It is the name God gives to Moses at the burning bush - Yahweh ("I AM"). To say that something has an essence is to say it exists. Art adds to this simple definition by revealing in its depiction a concentration of a quality or certain qualities. It is a form of distillation, directing the eye to that which makes a thing unique, precious, beautiful, etc. Of course, art can also reveal the ugly, the grotesque (think Goya, e.g.), but in any case there is a revelation.

I once heard a rather pretentious art student say that "art is a lie, meant to deceive." I could see how that could be true under certain circumstances, especially when parents want their children to be painted better looking than they are in real life! However, such a statement is surely reductionistic, and misses the more important theological aspect of all art - we are imitating our Creator in our little creations. We are attempting in our poems, paintings, and music, to reveal what our eye sees, and if we are graced with genius, we may see and reveal a great deal. Such revelation graces the world with insight, amazement, and in the end, what is most important - gratitude and joy in the simple pleasure of being - the gift of our esse, which is itself a gift from God.

3 Comments:

Blogger homo unius libri said...

Ooooo pretty pictures...

9:34 AM  
Blogger Weary Crusader said...

Okay, you have 'vacationed' long enough. Get back to posting...and it is a pretty picture. :-)

jl

11:00 AM  
Blogger Scribe said...

Back at work... :( Being a minister, however, means I only have to really work for an hour this week!

8:45 AM  

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