Describing Art for Those Unable to See

The description that follows is the result of a writing prompt I explained in this post. It was an interesting challenge and one I should consider more frequently.

”You have been asked to write a description of one of your favorite paintings for a blind audience.”

The painting is bathed in cool blues and richly textured greens. The ambient light from the room transforms the scene from daylight to dusk right before your eyes. We are never sure if it is early morning or late afternoon melting into dusk. The heavy blue clouds block the color of the sun, allowing only coolness to illuminate the bright green grass. The trees, fully leaved, cast long shadows claiming their portion of the scene. The porch is the star of the painting as if the huge house sitting just off the canvas is but a useless appendage. You get the sense this porch is where life is lived – the sharing of morning coffee or the slow sips of an evening glass of wine. The small vine-covered fence is dwarfed by the trees and you know immediately its purpose is to frame the scene. There are no barriers here other than the trees that disappear into the distance. It is easy to imagine children running barefoot in the grass full of laughter or a couple holding hands talking of times past or the urging of dreams yet realized. There is a sense of peace, of solitude, of familiarity, of belonging. This place is home, only borrowed by the viewer to lose themselves for a while.

This pastel painting is the work of Florida artist Gary Rupp. I fell in love with it because of the porch. When I grew up, the porch – front or back – was a place of gathering. It was perhaps the most valuable school room of my life. Did you get a different sense of the painting? I am curious to hear your thoughts.

Pastel Painting by Gary Rupp – Morning Light


Pastel Painting by Gary Rupp – Late Afternoon Light

24 thoughts on “Describing Art for Those Unable to See”

    1. Thank you, Don. We have a lot of artwork, but this continues to be my favorite. It has such a sense of home to me.


  1. Your words always bring vivid pictures in my mind. Beautifully done, and I too loved seeing the painting in different lighting afterwards! It matched what I visualized!

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  2. As I mentioned in my earlier response, I would be hard pressed to describe a painting to someone who had never seen color. Still pondering how I would proceed. You mention color a little, but the rest of the description really captures the feel of the painting and would be helpful. Now–how to explain what a painting is?

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        1. No, not at all! I appreciated your comment. It shows how much we take for granted. It takes effort to see through the eyes of another. Things we should do more often.


  3. You did an excellent job! I very much enjoyed reading your beautiful description. It’s interesting how we create an image in our minds from words. Looking at the painting, I see the tree in the foreground as a sentry. I imagined a lot of activity in the yard, which beckoned to me, and the porch as a resting place. Maybe it’s because I’ve rarely lived in a house with a decent sitting porch. I have a back deck, but a big front porch like this one would be wonderful!


    1. Art speaks to each of us in different ways. What a wonderful observation about the tree. I am afraid porches are going by the wayside.


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