It’s all in how you look at it

La Tempête -- Pierre August Cot (1880)


I have a poster of this painting (The Storm)  in my master bathroom. Apparently, Cot is most widely known for only two of his paintings, this and another romantic one titled Le Printemps (Spring). From an artistic viewpoint, I’m bothered by some confusion in his depiction of the light source and the angle and perspective of this young woman’s right calf and foot, but I enjoy it anyway. I like to look at this painting and imagine the story it tells.

Although the figures are clothed, I sometimes think of it as the moment in the Garden of Eden when God confronts Adam and Eve with their sin. It reminds me that Adam immediately turned to Eve, trying to pass the blame.

With other viewpoints, I look at the painting and see different situations. I see fear in her eyes as she looks toward the approaching storm, while the man has focused his eyes tenderly on the woman. His only concern is for her well-being. Then again, it could speak of her strength, her courage with him looking to her for guidance.

Or I see that she is aware of the serious concerns of life, while he thinks only of sex. (Notice her see-through tunic and his big horn.) And with a slight change, that could be her innocence, not seeing his lustful leer, trusting in the protection of his strong arm around her.

Within this painting of contrasting light and dark can be seen many tales of innocence and guilt, fear and assurance, weakness and strength. It’s all in how you look at it.

That’s why each of us may see pretty much the same world, but interpret it differently in our writing. From our individual viewpoints, we experience life and pass on the stories it tells us.

Isn’t that the wonder and privilege of story telling?

 

12 thoughts on “It’s all in how you look at it

  1. Oh Yes, Linda! Sometimes it scares me to think of what readers pull out from my work. But then I am reassured, as I know every time I read I am created a world that is mine and not that os the author’s. Strange it is.

    By the way, we watched The Reader last night (not a good idea for me being pregnant and emotional) and the female in the picture reminds me of Kate Winslet

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    1. When it all comes down to it, both reading and writing are narcissistic. The writer tells her story, but the reader reads the story she wants to read.

      Oh, you’re right about the painting … very Winslety. I love her looks, except when she’s too skinny.

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