When I was a young child, I saw my first Vincent van Gogh painting. I don’t remember which painting it was. I also had no idea about art. I just knew that this work of art understood me. Made me feel I wasn’t as strange and otherworldly as I always felt I was.
Years later, in my late teens, I visited the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. It felt like coming home. I understood the man through his art. I bought two hefty books soon after. The first is a book with all of his art, the second a book of his letters. I put them side by side, and I read his life as I saw his art. I realized as I read, that I truly understood his soul when I saw his art for the first time during my childhood.
And then came my first trip to London, in 1989. I browsed a rack of postcards, and my eyes first set upon the art of J.M.W. Turner.
It was this painting, the fighting Temeraire. He was a whole different ballgame. I loved the way he saw light, and I loved the way he painted the sea. It was an artwork that moved me to my core. I bought the postcard, and many followed. I never saw his art though, I was quite oblivious to the fact that a lot of his art works were in London.
When I turned 40, I wanted to spend my birthday in my favorite city. My husband took me to the Tate Modern, and for the first time I saw his art. I felt like I had entered heaven. There was one painting that was almost all light and fog. I just sat there and stared at the colours, at the rays, at the way the paint curved and danced on the canvas.
It took me some more years, until last September, to finally see the painting I fell in love with, standing at the postcard rack in 1989. I was moved to tears. I sat on the bench across from it, and just stared at the beauty that was this painting.
This to me is the most wonderful experience art can give a person.