What do you see?

My parents had a mirror that was quite large and quite heavy. In the middle of it was a ballet dancer in a pose. She had her arms out and was standing en pointe, on one leg. Her other leg was not in sight. As a child I always thought it was amusing that a ballet dancer could only have one leg. Eventually I came to understand that in that pose the leg was up behind her and out of sight.  But I liked to have explanations for things so I made up my own. She was indeed a ballet dancer who was dancing for the love of her life. The one she danced for didn’t know she was alive but that didn’t stop her from giving everything she had into the dance for him. The gods of dance took pity on her and placed her in a mirror where she could look out on the world but not be touched by it.  In my mind I never remembered the second dancer.

I tell this story to explain the picture above. It is a painting I did maybe 35 years ago. It is an abstract done in shades of gray. It’s called Private Dancer. That mirror was what inspired me to paint that picture and I have always thought of her, the dancer, as a lonely soul. A few years ago, a friend and I did an art show and I dug this old painting out because I rather like it. Several people came to me that day and commented how lovely the painting of the horse was. I smiled and thanked them. It was after the third or fourth person had commented about the horse that I finally asked someone what they were talking about. They didn’t understand why it was called Private Dancer but it was obviously a painting of a horse head. I never saw the horse head until it was physically pointed out to me. 35 years I’ve been looking at this painting and I never saw it. They didn’t see the dancer that I did. We stood side-by-side and looked at the exact same painting but saw something different. Isn’t that what life is all about? People go through life seeing exactly the same things but they interpret them differently.

There is no right or wrong way to look at an abstract painting. We see through our eyes not someone else’s and that is always a good thing. I can see the horse now and I can also see the private dancer and that makes the painting that much more precious to me. Because I was shown a vision through another’s eyes. That’s a valuable thing to share.

35 thoughts on “What do you see?

  1. Murphy’s Law

    Wow! I did see the horses head, but I confess I didn’t see the private dancer until I saw your illustration. Your abstract is amazing Pam and so is the mirror.

    Considering how we all see things so differently, it’s a wonder any of us are on the same page! So it makes sense that we respect and consider other people’s visions/ideas/thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dale

    I love this, Pam. The story behind the picture, your beautiful abstract painting that can be seen more ways than one (which is pretty darn cool, to me).
    You are a talented lady!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda Pearce Griffin

    I find it both amusing AND amazing that two people can view the very same picture and not see the same thing. It certainly explains a lot about our world, doesn’t it? BTW, I could not see the horse even when you tried to point it out to me. However, I do see the dancer. In fact, I see several dancers. Your abstract is fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. motiv8n

    What a beautiful story and a lovely painting! It’s interesting how we all see things differently, and interpret them in our own way. Have you had any other experiences where someone else saw something completely different in your artwork than what you intended?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. quiall Post author

      Thank you so much. Yes, it happens quite often. And that really pleases me. To think that someone is spending the time to see what’s in the painting means a lot to me.

      Liked by 1 person


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