larvalbug bytes archives / Main Index / previous / next

September, 2008


by Valerie

While contemplating what the subject for this essay would be, I thought I'd like to write about my favorite artists (as in the visual arts). However, as I started to write down names of painters, I realized that there were far too many. I couldn't choose a few without mentioning others, and that would lead to a lengthy listing rather than a coherent bit of prose. But it started me thinking about how I also could never write about my favorite composers, or my favorite actors, or movies, books, musical compositions, or foods. There are simply too many entries in any of those categories. And the problem is that even if I were to list my favorites now, it would be obsolete the moment that I heard, read, or saw a new work that pleased me.

It seems that it is not any particular work of art, or even artist, that I can say is a favorite, but more the variety. I do have preferences, and definite opinions as to what I like and do not, but experiencing more of anything helps in defining why I prefer certain things to others. I'm captivated by all the different things I can enjoy, whether it be a new entree at a restaurant or seeing new kinds of plants in a botanical garden. One example is color. When I was a kid, people would ask me my favorite color. I decided that it would be purple, not really because I liked the color more than others, but because it seemed like a good answer. I actually did think of purple being my favorite for a very short time, but then realized that all the other colors were great too, and I liked gold and red and blue and magenta and... well, you get the idea. I wanted the whole box of crayons, not just a few. Context is another factor, since the same gaudy array of hues that look splendid in a flower garden would probably not be very attractive in kitchen decor, and those stunning shades that make a sunset so mesmerizing would not look as good on a dress.

I guess I can say that one of my favorite things is variety; the chance that I will discover yet another author, flower, song, or illustration that is new to me is quite exciting. Often I am not expecting it, but I might see a painting in a shop window, or hear a musical piece on the radio, or see a particularly well designed building, and I am delighted by it. It doesn't matter if it is something unique and rare or so common that just about everyone else has seen it too. The next step is to learn more about it, especially if it was produced by someone. If I could remember the names of every artist whose paintings I've admired, I don't think there would be much room for anything else in my brain. However, the first thing I think about when I like a painting or other work of art is, "who made it and did they make more?" There's that quest for variety again. If one poem by a writer is good, then lots of poems by the same writer should be great.

Now that I've mentioned how much fun it is to discover new favorites, I've also got to add that familiarity is a big factor. Sometimes it takes repeated exposure to something before its admirable qualities really become apparent. And with every additional reminder of "what it is I like" my whole outlook is molded to accept or reject other things, or sometimes to place them in that middle-ground category of "maybe." It's all so complicated that I have to smile just thinking about it.

As I started playing with ideas about how to describe artists that I like, I looked through a few of my books. The flood of images, some of which I hadn't seen in quite some time but which were all familiar, merely reinforced the notion that it was a hopeless task to try to narrow down this sort of experience. I've taken the easy way out and given up. I think I'll simply enjoy the treasures I've already found and look forward to seeing the new ones that will come to my attention in the future.

larvalbug bytes archives / Main Index / previous / next