“Beauty is everywhere, but one may see the beautiful view and the other sees a dirty window. You have the power within you to choose what you see, what you think and what you paint.” Leanne Caddon (from The Painter’s Keys)
To think of pond scum is to think of something slimy and dirty, naturally ugly, choking out beauty. But is it? Who decided that? Is there some committee somewhere that decides what is lovely and what isn’t? Or is it like a video going viral. Somebody says, “That’s as ugly as pond scum.” People hear it and think its funny so they repeat it. Soon everybody thinks pond scum must be ugly and yucky even if they have never actually seen pond scum or even a pond. It must be ugly because somebody said it was.
Artists frequently go against the grain or swim upriver. When someone says something is ugly, somewhere an artist says, “No its not and I’ll show you!” Stephen Bayley has written a book on the subject. In an interview with Charlotte Cripps of The Independent, Bayley says he is “just provoking ideas about our assumptions of ugliness.” The point of Bayley’s book, he tells Cripps, “is to challenge all our preconceptions about ugliness.” The role of the artist is, not only to challenge but to prove those preconceptions wrong.
Walking along beside a pond, I noticed this beautiful velvety green film covering the surface with colorful fall leaves floating on top. To me, it was beautiful. To someone else, it is pond scum. Check out the photo and see what you think. If you agree with me that it is beautiful, the next time someone calls you, “Pond Scum,” you can respond with a heartfelt, “Thank you!”
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