The Significance of a Space and a Place

by Lydia Marie Elizabeth

My first daydream of my future life in Philadelphia before I arrived for college, now nearly seven years ago, was of myself gracefully advancing up the steps of the art museum in the summer moonlight.  I distantly imagined looking up at the beautiful architectural details lit up and offset by the cool breeze amongst the trees and foliage surrounding it.  I was of no particular importance, but the significance of the place in my daydream mind has stuck with me until now, years later.  The space and the place have such a tremendous effect on our memories and daydreams.

Now this is going to seem like a little tangent for a moment, but bear with me, here.  I recently have been struggling with my fashion identity.  Many of my clothes resemble some styles from too long ago.  I recently read an article that was pinpointed at just my struggle.  I buy cute things when I buy, but are they cohesive? 
Recall the scene from The Blindside when Sandra Bullock takes Michael shopping and she directs him to pick something up and tells him to ask the question “Is this me?”  It’s great advice.
So! I began a Pinterest board, as I was directed, entitled, “What I want to look like.”
Mine is chalk full of women in Oscar De La Renta on museum steps, a girl in Alexander McQueen white chiffon knife pleats paired with a motorcycle helmet , long maxis and high heels.  Lots of great hair and black sunglasses, a BUNCH of Mansur Gavriel bags, there are pearls;  They are probably all going to brunch and day drinking.  Did I mention everyone is in high heels?  

This is what I want to look like?!
I’m afraid I have to accept for myself what most people already knew about me: my expectations of real life are just not practical.

Stop gloating.

The reason for my fashion conundrum culminating with my day dream about ascending the steps of the Art Museum is that the other day, my husband and I went to see the Discovering the Impressionists exhibit that is being shown at the Art Museum thanks to The National Gallery in London. (Thanks, Kate!)

I’ve always adored the Impressionism movement.   Blotches of vibrant paint changed the world from a dark and dreary serious place to a light hearted love affair with a single moment.  Leading up to the Impressionist movement there was a group in France called “The Academy” who deemed art worthy of display or not.  They dictated what was art and what was not.  Leading up to the impressionist movement paintings were deemed “good” if they had certain qualities; namely, they had to be of honorable subject matter, the artists had to depict the human form in an idealized way, and the viewer was meant to forget that he was looking at a canvas and paint. 
The impressionists began depicting every day moments, the human form as it was in reality, imperfect and sagging.  There was a new emphasis on light and the way it informs our surroundings.   As Monet painted his The Poplar Series, (each canvas about 36” x 40” on average) he told a friend that he would sometimes have about seven minutes to catch the light before it changed.
The Academy hated the impressionists because they would sometimes not even cover the canvas, and many of the people depicted in the paintings looked strange to eyes that were used to looking on idealized forms.
This particular exhibit was great refreshment for my own vision for my present and future.  These artists were inspired to breathe life into painting that was not there previously.  Their subject matter and approach was new.

How it inspired me:
My own determination for my career is to breathe new life into architectural and interior renderings.  Currently paintings and drawings of architecture and interiors are mostly used as a means to an end; for helping the client envision a space before it is built.  It is for the details to be seen before they invest money into materials so the kinks can be worked out.  I have done this many times already for projects and clients.  “What will it look like in the end.” In fact, hand drawn renderings typically fair better than the digital sketchup and 3DSMax rendering models because they are not like a photograph. 
So many changes happen between conception, construction, and opening day, that the final renderings do not look like the final product.  And if they do, the renderings have been changed and re-rendered 100 times (and that’s not exaggerating.)

I’m no longer interested in infusing an imaginary space with the emotion that could be, I’m interested in capturing the emotion and happy memories that are and were in a space.  I believe that the art of design is just as important as the built product.
 I want to depict the space and the place that help and have helped to inspire and define us.  The moments we spend together at a kitchen table conversing together at breakfast, the time spent in the back room playing board games, or the ten precious minutes you spent at a restaurant with your best friend that totally define your outlook on the world today.
  I want to depict the surroundings that made that significant moment in your life possible. 

In fashion and the whole world is so inwardly focused in order to be perceived in a particular way.  I want to be perceived as someone who goes to a gala in Oscar De La Renta, others want to be perceived as ultra hipster, and others wish to be perceived as super trendy. 

 It is good to inspect ourselves; however, it is imperative that we inspect ourselves in a way that grounds us in reality.  The selfie has caused everyone to be more aware of their outward appearance.   But we’re not all outwardly beautiful like Kate Middleton, what’s beautiful is what is inside of us and our experiences and how we live our lives.  Furthermore, I believe that there is beauty in the moments that have made us.  Personal beauty is so transient, and the moment which inspired us to start our career or change our lives are filled with so much more significance.
As we begin our celebration of America’s Independence I wanted to share with you this painting that is all about the joys of a lazy summer afternoon.  Maine, for me, is all about entirely relaxing and inwardly inspecting.  Here all my worries are put into perspective and I’m able to feel very small against the larger plan for the world.  And to me, that is a very significant place both physically and mentally;
by the water watching the sailboats breeze by.  The days are warm and sunny and the lupens sway in the breeze outside, but the nights are cool, so there is a plaid blanket that I used last night between the chairs.  I’ve thrown my legs sideways so many times to catch a glimpse of my companion- whether my mother or my now husband muse with me or relax beside me.   Sometimes we play chess between these chairs.  Not a lot of conversation, but still significant because of the feeling of the moment.

Where is the beautiful place in your life? When is a time you treasure to remember?  What did it look like?  

Now, go! Create a beautiful experience this weekend and let’s not forget those that fell years ago and gave their lives so that we can enjoy our countries and the freedoms we still have today.

 Happy Independence Day, America!