Collecting Painting

One of a Kind: The Experience of Painting

By Gavin Sewell and Chrissy Cheung

Each painting is unique. A painting is an object with its own particular presence and aura. It can only be experienced by direct visual contact. We feel this colored music with our eyes, and if we are receptive, step into a world of sensual and intellectual encounter. Being with a painting is one of life's great richnesses.

A collector who values this uniqueness will make paintings the backbone of a collection. An art collection is a material expression of the collector’s spiritual journey, and paintings are major landmarks and road signs along the way. The paintings we take into our lives tell us who we've been and who we’re becoming. Since they are unique, our encounter with them reminds us of our own uniqueness.

Painting is the oldest of the plastic arts, with cave paintings dating back more than forty millennia. It has a storied history, especially in the last century and a half, when painting lead the artistic vanguard expressing the ideas and sensations of a rapidly changing world. In the late 19th century, European painters absorbed new influences from Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

They also broke with centuries of formal tradition to express rapid changes in society, science, and technology. The result was a series of artistic movements and counter movements from early impressionism to abstract expressionism and pop. Each movement’s intellectual culture, spiritual mood, and visual vocabulary adds to the richness of today's post-modern work.

The practice of painting encompasses a variety of materials. Traditionally it includes tempera, oils, acrylics, encaustics, gouache, and watercolors. The modern and postmodern periods expanded painting to include collages, mixed-media works, and experimental media including rust, sand, burn marks, elephant dung, and even stranger things.

A painting also tells a story about the artist who created it. A person began applying materials to this canvas, panel, or sheet of paper at a specific moment, worked for a period of time, signed his or her name, then stopped. Each painting you see is traced with the artist’s personal history, training, career stage, artistic project, and incidental moods. It could not have been executed at another time or place.

The viewer consummates the experience of painting. We bring our own histories and intuitions to each encounter with a work of art. Seeing a variety of paintings and some works repeatedly over a period of time, we develop our sensitivity to and knowledge of art and of life.

Where a painting's history, its materiality as an object, the painter, and the viewer intersect is the special reality of a painting. It is an event which cannot be reproduced, one which expands and deepens our experience of being alive.

We hope the paintings in the Eastside Culture Crawl will stimulate you to explore further - both by seeing more artwork  and by expanding your personal collection. We welcome you to unlimited one of a kind experiences – the experience of paintings.