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Art as Therapy: Nature


Problem: I get cynical when things seem too nice.
Lorrain sought out particular moods that nature could speak to — and sought to intensify them in his pictures. He’s not trying to be realistic — perhaps no part of nature could be as artfully composed as this. Everything is calculated to make us feel wistful. It is evening, and the mild sunlight tinges the western sky. The shadows are lengthening, but far away on the horizon there is a distant island. The headlands break sweetly into the bay as the lines of the hills melt away.

Obviously, this painting is not paying much attention to the darker aspects of existence. That’s not because it is ignorant of them or wants to pretend that everything is rosy. Rather it is giving us a restorative break. It is deliberately drawing our attention to more delicate and sweet states of mind, because it understands how easily they get swamped by the tribulations of everyday life.

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