What Anne Shirley teaches us 150+years later

What Anne Shirley teaches us 150+years later

Anne of Green Gables books in front of bokeh painting

Dear Art Lover,

I’m currently reading Anne of Green Gables with one of my kids; while I can’t quite believe the books slipped by me in my own childhood, I’m enjoying them as much now as I think I would have 30-odd years ago.

Have you read the series?

If you’re not familiar with the books: Anne Shirley – the famous character created by LM Montgomery - blows into Green Gables as an orphaned child, full of imagination, optimism and hope. While Anne's rose-coloured glasses have served as a survival strategy through difficult childhood years, her wistful view of the world rings so many bells of recognition for me as an artist 150+ years after the story is set.

“I suppose that’s how it looks in prose.
But it’s very different if you look at it through poetry.”         Anne

Anne recounts events with a romantic, poetic narration. In stark contrast to her no-nonsense adoptive mother Marilla’s recall, Anne shows us a way of looking at the world that allows us to:
observe,
embrace,
rejoice,
soak in, and
reflect upon
the beauty in the world, negating the harsh realities.

As Anne and Marilla share contrasting views, so do different artists bring their own skillsets - and mindsets - to the works they create.

Prosaic Artists

Prosaic Artists pursue realism and accurate representation through their work. Their aim is to capture the subject accurately and somewhat realistically. They’re interested in details from the blades of grass to the curve of your eyelash. Indeed, this style of painting will capture the beauty in the world around us, though it will also reveal the weeds, warts and wrinkles.

The Prosaic Artist is a details-oriented documentarian, with incredible skill and finesse.

Marilla would approve (though she likely wouldn't say so).

Poetic Artists

I’ll lay claim instead to be a Poetic Artist (Anne would probably call us 'kindred spirits'). The blurry bokeh* style of painting I've been exploring for a while now is characterised by a soft focus and blurred edges, which creates a dreamy, ethereal effect. The intent is far from capturing a crisp representation of the subject, but rather on creating a mood or a feeling.

My poetic, bokeh oil paintings lead you into the story of the artwork, encouraging you to use your imagination, to fill in the gaps of knowing with your own interpretation. My locations/subjects are treated softly and whimsically; evoking a sense of wonder, enchantment and fuzzy memories.

Bokeh style painting of Queens park Invercargill

I often hear them called 'Abstract', though the blurry, bokeh-style painting can actually be quite photorealistic in terms of how accurately it translates the reference photograph to canvas.

I have more in common with a Prosaic Artist than meets the eye.

These soft bokeh oil paintings and another artist's sharper, more realistic painting style both have their own unique beauty and value. Whether we choose to see the world through a poetic lens (a la Anne) or a prosaic lens (like the pragmatic Marilla), there is something to be gained from each perspective - and always scope for some cross over between the two.

x Mel

* Does Bokeh-style need a blog post of it's own to explain?

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