Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



December 2017

“One of [Leonardo’s] arguments was that painters did more than simply depict reality – they also augmented it. They combined observation with imagination.”


Walter Isaacson, “How Leonardo made Mona Lisa smile,” The Atlantic. November 2017.

Reality and Imagination in Painting

Dear Reader,

Artistic and poetic licenses give permission to those of us who choose to stray from the path and let our imaginations take over. Leonardo’s view on our augmenting reality is summarized by his statement that “painting embraces not only the works of nature but also infinite things that nature never created.”
Once I painted a landscape that included unbroken stripes of clouds gently arcing the horizon. It felt right, so I left them to their stripy-ness. Then one day, in a valley in the south of France, I saw those stripe-clouds and smiled.

Last year, I worked on an ink piece and drew a flower outline. Its petals offered small areas to let my imagination go wild. It felt right.


Two months ago, in Paris at a Jeu de Paume exhibition of photographs by Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897 – 1966), I came upon this and smiled.

Once again, Nature had the last laugh – this succulent plant’s unusual 5-lobed (foul-smelling) flower already existed. Hats off to Nature, who got there first with this fabulous design.