A world without beauty
I used to live in a world without beauty. It wasn't exactly an ugly world - of course there were flowers, nice houses, pink sunsets - but that was all. My world was simply plain, unremarkable. Occasionally, I would travel to a stunning beach or go camping in the mountains, and I would get a little dose of beauty back in my life. But the effect always disappeared after I returned to my daily routine.
Because nothing was obviously wrong, I didn't realize I was missing something. I though this was just life. I kept busy with work, and didn't give the world of beauty much thought.
Then I began daily painting, and everything changed. Although I had painted off and on for many years, I never painted so consistently and with so much focus. I initially painted still lifes as simple exercises to improve my painting skills. However, as I devoted more attention to observing the objects in front of me, my visual experience shifted, and I began to see light and color in a much more exciting and nuanced way.
I studied great painters who could take everyday moments and paint them with such a sensitivity to beauty that they became transcendent. As I looked more at these paintings and continued making discoveries in my own work, I learned a new way of seeing that connected me to the stunning complexity my visual experience.
This is the great power of art. It can take something you thought you knew and transform it in a way that takes your breath away. When we expose ourselves to great works of art, we learn new ways of seeing that reveal to us the sublime nature of our world.
And the best art pieces not only give us joy when we look at them, but continue to impact us long after we've left the museum. Great art encourages us to forget what we expect to see and instead look at what is actually in front of us. It is often so much more beautiful than we can imagine.