In August I visited the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine.
Hanging in a hallway were many delightful paintings of lobster. They were painted by children.
The children had clearly thought (and been well taught) about the parts of a lobster, the colors of a lobster, the symmetry of a lobster.
These paintings made me think about the relationship between observation and creativity.
Even though everyone was painting the same subject, each painting was unique.
The artist was visible as well as the subject.
Some lobsters were tidy.
And some were intense.
Each one had some especially pleasing detail such as these antennae that look like a beaded necklace.
Or this one with the varied legs, the rainbow shoulder, the fringe on the tail fins.
It is hard to draw something real. It takes looking with your eyes, and sometimes overriding what you think you know. Even though I draw constantly, drawing from life is always challenging.
It can take several tries.
Even the most careful drawing of the actual world is an act of creation as well as depiction.
And every act of imagination also benefits from close observation of the real world.
These lobster paintings are as strange and beautiful as lobsters themselves. And each painting is as individual and extraordinary as the child who painted it.
Here is an excerpt from The Lobster- Poem by Howard Nemerov.
To read, or to hear, the whole wonderful and haunting poem, please click here.
To find out more about the arts education at the Farnsworth Museum, please click here.
To experience the beauty and strangeness of the world, try drawing something you think you know.