When You Know Too Much

It’s not everyday I fall in love with a piece of art. But, I did yesterday.

Art Story www.michelleandresart.com

Scrolling through some social media pages, I saw an illustration that tugged at my heart. It was deep with meaning and very well done. I couldn’t stop envisioning it on my wall.

Poof! With a witless click, the image was gone. I scrolled, but I couldn’t find it again. The hunt was on. I spent at least an hour launching a full-force search to locate the piece so I could seize it for my collection. I couldn’t locate the artist or remember their full name. Finally, I found someone with a similar name and sent a note. No, it wasn’t this person, but they knew who it was. SCORE! I was told, “Wait until you hear the story behind this piece. You will love it even more!”

Art Story www.michelleandresart.comOh, the anticipation! I sent a note to the artist, “I love your piece titled, “—–,” can you please tell me about it?

With bated breath, I awaited a response. Nothing. I went to my own studio to continue working. When I returned, there was a long, detailed story of the artwork. It explained the language the artist chose, the characters in the piece, what they were doing, what they were thinking, what their intentions were, and even more.

I reconsidered – perhaps, after this first date, it was just infatuation. It wasn’t my piece anymore.

I’d lost interest. It was as if, on the first date, mi amour showed up fully naked – body and soul. I’d been told too much.

Does this ever happen to you? What was yours clearly, once again, became the artists’? I’m a bit unfamiliar with this territory. I paint abstractly. I offer very little information and want the experience to be unique to everyone who comes in contact with my paintings – including myself.  There’s a thread we share, but I hope (nearly) everyone can take away something meaningful to them. Viewing this other artist’s work was different, because, with so much detail, there was nothing unique for me to take away. It made me wonder….

How much should an artist tell? Of course, every work has a story. How Know Art Stories www.michelleandres.commuch of the story should we tell? Some time ago the belief was that a work should speak for itself. What do you think? How much do you need to hear…need to tell? Are you saying too much, too little?

I work in series, so every series begins with a concept. I explain the concept, but let the viewer take it from there. Am I leaving tidbits of meaning on the table? I don’t want to starve the viewer, yet I don’t want to impinge on their psyche, either.

I suspect the “need to know” is highly personal and varies from person to person. I had a woman ask about my work last Saturday evening and, apparently, I didn’t offer enough explanation, because she asked more questions. I believe, eventually, I satisfied her curiosity. But, how do we know? What is the value of mystery?

Let’s have a conversation. Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Do Tell!





Michelle Andres is a writer and artist who Writer, Artist, Coachcultivates her own Well Lived Life by drinking in the beauty around her, following her passion, respecting others and doing her best to own her own dookie.
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9 Replies to “When You Know Too Much”

  1. Hi Michelle,

    I read your latest blog with interest.

    I like you am an abstract artist, I work in many different medium, print, ceramic, paint, wax, metal, copper, in fact anything that I find that jogs a reaction in me. Metal is a particular love, the only reason I can find for this is that in my previous life, I worked in the motor trade supplying and manufacturing parts for classic cars, I have lived with metal for many many years.

    To get back to the subject, personally I do not always need to know what the artist was thinking or wanting to portray in their work, if it gives me that electric buzz through my body that is what make a work special for me, it could be the colour, shape, just that it resonates with me personally. I am more likely to want to know the backstory if a work has no effect on me.

    My own work is very free, experimental and I tend not to follow set rules, If I am told I can’t do something, then I will try to see what happens, itresults in many disasters, however it also throws up a real gem from time to time, the most important thing for me whilst making art is to lose myself, have no preconceived ideas, I accept that some will like my work, others will not and many will just think I am crazy, but if it makes my soul sing then that is enough for me. If a viewer wants to know more about the work, I will share the processes but expect them to find the reasons for themselves, and these will be their reasons not mine.

    Seem to have waffled on a bit, but this is how I work and take in other artists work.

    Keep up the thought provoking blogs


  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Liz. I’m sure other people feel as we do, and then still, others feel differently. I’m interested to hear from people because I’m sure art buyers have a vast range of difference in their desire to hear stories. Thank you for chiming in. Keep making art! ~m

  3. As I was reading your blog it reminded me of a first date. I think we’ve always been told not to go into too much detail when we first meet–such as how awful our divorce was or the colors we’d choose for the wedding if this first date and I were to get married. And yet some people just can’t help themselves. TMI became an acronym for a reason. Many artists who know more than I have often said “let the prospective buyer create their own story about the piece.” You have just proven why that is such an important philosophy.

  4. The nice thing about art today is freedom. You can do exactly as you please or not.

    Who will like your art, which is different from who will buy your art, is hard to say. I do my art for me. If someone else likes it, that’s great. If they don’t like it, I’m perfectly fine with that, as well.

    My art has lots of detail. TMI works for me and for those who are in

    1. Laura Anne – I was exploring how much we tell the viewer and if too much or too little detail in what we tell them influences how they felt in the first place. Of course, I hope every who does art follows their heart. If we tell the viewer too much story, do you think that influences their heart? In a good way or not? I suspect it’s highly up to individual preference. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. ~m

  5. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the tabloid, The National Enquirer, but it has TMI in it and people can’t get enough. It has got all the gossip about famous people. I think it has been in business since the 1960’s or 1950’s and tells all of the gossip. I don’t believe people’s hearts are changed by information. Either they love the artwork or they don’t.

  6. I have a painting of an old Missouri while Mansion. I like to tell the story to someone who comments on it. It’s a piece of my history and for that it is special to me.

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