An artist friend recently displayed two versions of a scene she’d painted – one was dark, rich and moody, while the other was a lighter, fresher portrayal of the same image. She asked us to state which we preferred. The feedback was mixed, but slightly more people liked the darker image than the lighter one. Artists particularly gravitated to the darker scene and, in one case, pointed to the depth of saturation as a reason for their choice. Both images were gorgeous, and it was hard to choose one over the other. But for me, having just lived through a dark and wet weekend that included a six-hour power outage, I craved something light. My need for sunshine and uplift reminded me of a recent newsletter written by foodie and cookbook author Laura Calder. You can read her post here: https://www.lauracalder.com/april-2022
In part of her newsletter, Calder writes about leaving on vacation just as the Russians attacked Ukraine. She wrestled with whether or not it was in bad taste to post happy holiday shots on social media when there was so much pain and suffering in the world. Ultimately, believing that negativity needs to be beaten back with some delight or everyone would go mad, she decided to share some of her joy. “We have as much of a moral obligation to appreciate beauty, pleasure, and goodness when they’re presented to us as we do to confront evil and destruction when they show up on our path,” Calder wrote. “In fact, when we’re down in the dumps or anxious, it’s more important than ever to keep our senses sharpened for perceiving love and loveliness, because these can be the only things that keep us going.”
My artist friend who posted her work for us to see is just one of many creatives I know who continue to paint, play music, create mosaics and write books, among many other artistic pursuits. With the world feeling quite dark these days, it may feel indulgent or superfluous to do those things, and yet, as Laura Calder reminds us, there are times when a single touch of loveliness or one spot of brightness truly can keep us going.