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  • Writer's pictureFatima Learn

You'll Be Glad You Kept Your Distance

A self portrait during a lockdown stage in the Covid-19 Quarantine era.
"Good morning Sunshine?", Fatima Learn. Acrylic on canvas

The pandemic looks like it is finally starting to wrap up and everyone is starting to feel more comfortable to gather. Human nature does not do well when distancing from each other is being practiced day in and day out. I would like to remind everyone it is still important, for just a little while longer, to keep a physical distance for everyone's well-being. Not everyone feels that way and I respect that, so I ask you not condemn me for my opinion. What I have noticed about keeping a distance from one another during the pandemic is that it has forced us to see the person in front of us - figuratively speaking. You can develop a different impression of something or someone when looking from a distance. I guess what I am saying is that sometimes you can see more of the big picture about a persons true colours from body language.

Making A Comparison

Sometimes I wish that distancing yourself would happen in the art world. I am actually going to compare viewing a painting to distancing yourself from contracting a virus. Yes, I admit this transition is a bit crazy but your mind starts wandering to unusual comparisons when your isolated for as long as I have been. For instance, pyjama pants are very similar to track pants, it’ll be ok if I wear my pyjama pants all day, right? No, they are not the same (but let’s pretend). Here is my tip for viewing art - It is important to appreciate art initially from about a 6 ft. distance.

Viewing Artwork From A distance

"The Scream" (1893). Edvard Munch

Why is distancing yourself when viewing a painting important? My opinion is a painting reads better at a distance. If the viewer is interested in the form and colour they will move closer to examine the painter’s technique. That is the only time I recommend being close to the artwork. Artists will step back to look at their work in progress. This is only one method of many that artists take to decide what needs attention. You can identify anatomy and perspective problems by simply turning the artwork upside down or looking at it through a mirror. What these tricks do is force your brain to momentarily rewire itself to understand the visual composition. The problem areas will stick out like a sore thumb when you use these tricks.

It wasn’t long ago that I was at a small market waiting in line to go in because they were letting in only 10 people at a time. I keep my standard 6 ft distance from the person in front of me. However, I did not turn around to see behind me but I heard a vigilant store clerk yell out to a person and motion “more distance please!”. If we could only have people like that at galleries.


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