December 10 – left this world one day

left this world one day
and fell into a painting
lost in impressions

More years ago than I want to remember I was in the National Gallery of Art and standing in front of Vincent’s Green Wheat Fields, Auvers (1890)

Even in the online version of the painting, I can feel the force of Vincent’s strokes and splats and swirls as the paint was thrown at the canvas. (check the painting in this link from the NGA – it allows you to zoom in)

Nervous energy flows out of the work.

Then it happened.

I fell into the painting.

My glasses, as always, were murky and splattered with gunk.

I took them off to clean them up with my shirt tail so I could get a better look at the painting.

Digression: I love 100% long sleeve cotton shirts that I wear untucked. I wear them untucked just to have something handy with which to clean my glasses.

As I was polishing my glasses, I leaned in close to the painting.

History of Art was my minor in college.

I enjoyed the lectures and the stories about the painters and paintings.

I had a hard time going along with the concept that art could be assigned to genre and schools and such.

I found out the History of Art was a field of study conceived and taught first in Germany.

Then it all made sense.

Can’t have all this art just lying around, there must be order!

But again I digress.

One of the professors I had took the class on a tour of the Detroit Institute of Art.

And he explained ‘How to go to an art museum.’

Perspective: Sit on the floor about 10 to 15 feet in front of the work to get the artist’s perspective. (Doggone it but he was right).

Light: You MUST visit any museum three times. In the morning, for morning light. In the afternoon for afternoon light and at night for electric light as the art changes. (Doggone it but he was right again).

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, The Guards: He said to embrace that we were students of art, not just visitors. When we entered a gallery, we should first walk up to any guard and introduce yourself and just let them know you were a student.

On this day, I had introduced myself to the guard and said I was an art student.

He turned ever so slowly and looked me in the eye and just barely nodded.

And in I went and found myself in front the Van Gogh, polishing my glasses.

I am very very very near sighted.

I can see my hand in front of face at about 3 inches.

BUT the detail I see at the distance just drives me nuts as it lets me realize just how bad my eyes are.

Anyway, as I polished my glasses, I leaned in closer and closer to bring the painting into focus.

When I could see the painting clearly, I was so close, I was probably seeing a section of the painting that that was 4 by 6 inches.

My brain went click or something.

In that 4 x 6 inch section of the painting, viewed from about 3 inches away, with my glasses off, focus was so sharp, there was as much detail in the entire painting.

I could see brush stokes on brush strokes.

I could see the edges of a palate knife.

I could see lines of SINGLE HAIR of a brush.

I could could whorls and swirls of oil paint that looped and hooked like white cap waves on Lake Michigan.

Layer upon layer of color threads and trails.

I felt I was inside the painting.

I swear I could look UP at the peaks of oil paint.

Surrounded by Vincent’s impressions of the view of the field.

The painting is big.

About 2 feet by 3 feet.

I had to see the entire thing.

And I slowly moved over the entire surface from 3 inches away.

My eyes must have been where Vincent’s hand had been.

I was gone.

I was gone from the world that the art gallery was in.

I am not sure where I was.

Seems like I stopped breathing but I could not have as I stood there for about 20 minutes.

Like one of those time-space sequences in a movie, this moment came to an end and I was sucked back out of the painting in a tunnel of streams of light.

I straightened up and stepped back.

And came back into to this world.

I put my glasses back on.

Looked around.

That guard was right behind me.

The entire time, he had been guiding people around me.

He let me have those moments.

Maybe he knew I had left the room.

Maybe he had seen the effect on others.

I caught his eye and nodded.

He nodded back.

Words were not necessary.

Not sure a week goes by that I don’t think of this moment.

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