Art Theory According to Jan

Several weeks ago, a friend-who-shall-remain-nameless (you’ll understand the reason for her anonymity as you read on) came over for coffee. During our conversation about a variety of topics, she looked up at the painting that hangs above our fireplace. It’s a piece Steve painted in 2009.


I like abstract art because it makes me think about what I see in the painting. Today, I stared at it from various yoga poses and thought about what my friend said she saw and about what I see and what Steve sees.

That led me to a theory. But I need test subjects to prove (or disprove) my theory. Will you be part of my experiment? Here’s all you need to do:

Before reading further, write in the comments section what you see in the painting . . . if you dare.

This big black space is here to keep you from peeking.

This big black space is here to keep you from peeking.

Okay…did you admit write what you saw in Steve’s abstract art?

Now I’ll tell you what each of us noticed in the painting: my friend, Steve and I. As you’ll note, all three are different:

  • My friend-who-shall-remain-nameless sees phallic symbols. (See why she’s anonymous?)
  • Steve sees people talking on a merry-go-round. He titled the painting “Conversations.”
  • I see elves, laboratory flasks and a half-hidden light bulb.

Now, here’s my theory:

In abstract art, I think people see things that represent what they’re searching for. Here’s my interpretation of what appeared to each of us in the painting:

  • I happen to know that my friend is in search of physical intimacy, thus she sees phalluses.
  • As aΒ licensed clinical social worker, Steve is in constant conversation with people who are often on a metaphorical merry-go-round. Sometimes it’s a challenge to guide them toward getting off the ride.
  • I search for play (the elves), for the courage to experiment (the flasks) and to reveal new ideas (the half-hidden light bulb).

What do you think? Did you see something you might be searching for in the painting? Or did my yoga poses send me into La-la Land?

Hmmm . . .

If you’d like to see other art by Stephen Vanek, click HERE.

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13 Responses to Art Theory According to Jan

  1. People in party hats, or as you said, Elves πŸ™‚


  2. truthsbyruth says:

    hahahahaha. You KNOW what I see, Jan.


  3. truthsbyruth says:

    I did see test tubes as well. Hmm, I don’t agree with all of your theory. I don’t want nor need what I first saw, but thought it was funny.


  4. kdmccrite2 says:

    I saw snow cones, test tubes, a sailboat, and various phallic symbols. Now, I’ll go back and read the rest of your post.


  5. kdmccrite2 says:

    OK, so now I finished, and I suppose I am sick (test tubes)and in need of summer love (hence the snow cones, sailboat and, um, well… you know. Or wait. Test tubes often mean experiments, don’t they? Oh, dear.


    • Jan Morrill says:

      I love your creative mind, KD. I can just see you on a sailboat eating snow cones, the wind blowing in your hair. Then I see you giving that wind a piece of your mind because now it’s all sticky with blue raspberry syrup. πŸ™‚


  6. mendyknott says:

    I see lots of different kinds of old-fashioned fishing bobbers. Beautiful, really. And it made me want to sit beside a riverbank and throw a line in, watching the bobber drift downstream.


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