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The Perfectly Imperfect Details

“So much detail.”

“You must like detail.”

“How’s your eyesight after all that detail?”

I regularly get these responses from people who see my art in person, especially viewing the miniatures. I answer that I do indeed like detail and I often pick subjects because of the little details. But I also explain there are a lot of details I omit, using that oh-so-lovely thing called “artistic license” – where an artist’s interpretation can veer away as much as she likes from accuracy. If the subject photos for my paintings were put next to the paintings, you’d see I use artistic license quite a bit!

I considered using some artistic license again on this new miniature painting of a Roman door I came across last Christmas, itching to omit a bothersome detail. The door had beautifully-intricate woodworking, along with the rich hues of burnt siennas and reds. The climbing vines, matching lanterns and the holiday garland framed the door nicely too, but… it wasn’t a perfect door scene. Hanging down above the door was an errant string of mini lights. Like a single long strand of hair hanging down the middle of a face on school photo day (yes, I have one of THOSE photos). Arrghhh! To include or not to include?! My Inner Critic was screaming “Use the artistic license thing. Remember your school photo!”

And then I thought about Rome. It is definitely not perfect, as hard as it might try to be on the surface. It’s a city where you have to take the beauty with the beast. I’ve always been curious about the paradoxes of this city, how the ancient and modern co-exist and often not harmoniously. Sometimes it’s comical and sometimes it’s very frustrating, but it’s never boring. And so removing this unwelcome dangling light string would not be capturing the Rome I know, but aiming for some kind of perfection that doesn’t exist. And I’m all about painting what I know.  It’s settled, the string stays in! No artistic license here.

And this new painting is proudly called “Deck The Door alla Romana” – perfectly imperfect.

#168 – Deck The Door Alla Romana

2.5″ x 3.5″ ink and watercolour painting


(Acquire the original painting here. This image is also part of a holiday card set which can be purchased here.)

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