Monday, October 15, 2007

Painting Stories

One of the most remarkable storytellers I know is Fanny Rush. Fanny is a portrait painter who began as an art director and taught herself to paint in Brazil.

Fanny's work is quite, quite beautiful -- and in addition to the stories she tells with the portraits about the sitters, her website tells stories of her process. Fascinating stuff.

We recently sat at supper with two other friends, and the subject of -- well -- subjects (of portraits) came up. Fanny suggested that it annoys her when the first question about a painting that someone asks is about the identity of the sitter.

I had asked about the sitters in a painting in her studio just a week before. And another friend at the table said it was her inclination as well.

I admitted to being nosy -- I look into apartments in NY when I pass by if the shades aren't drawn (I call it apartment neck). I like seeing the inside of other people's houses, particularly in my neighborhood or in my apartment block. Everything about it interests me.

But I don't think I'm so unusual. Before all else, the minds of most people I know are drawn to narrative. We non-specialists rush to know the story behind whatever we see or hear, or we create one to fill the void left by inadequate information. It happens so fast that we're not even conscious of it.

Fanny, on the other hand, sees her work as a painting first and foremost. But then she already knows more of the story than we will consider.

Is this the issue? Or is it a question of different ways of seeing?

All ideas are welcome.

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