The Eyes of the Beholder: Reality Shaping and the Work

Preraphaelite paintings, in their close attention to details, create an atmosphere that is beyond time. It is dream-like, as in those dreams that are more real than real. So maybe, by this realism in oberving/knowing/loving nature, the senses border not on the fantastical, the imaginary, or the unreal as the author suggests, but on the edge that separates the real and the more than real if that makes any sense. Speculating here.
My assessment as well. Raphael's paintings have, to my eye, foreboding and lifeless colors. His scenes are morose and even threatening. The faces of his subjects appear unreal. Same with his scenes being too simplified and he depicts people's bodies like plastic puppets. During his life, witch-burnings and the Inquisition was in full force.

Whereas the paintings of Pre-Raphaelites are more realistic, beautiful and appear to have a calming, freeing effect. They lived hundreds of centuries apart, when the inquisition and witch-burnings effectively ended. Clearly, the time, when these artists lived, influenced their general emotional states as well and determined the feel of their work.

What I would put on the wall of my room is this one:

Mountaineer in a Misty Landscape, by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich.

and The Ninth Wave (1850, Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg), considered Aivazovsky's most famous work:


Anywhere else in the house:
The Morning Ride by Heywood Hardy

Winter Scene In Provincial Russia by Albert Nikolaevich Benois:
Mary Balogh, in her Westcott series (see romantic thread) introduces a character, Joel, and he is a painter. Thought it interesting to read how that character sees through his eyes into the deeper aspects of the being he paints, while presenting the whole on canvas. Joel, the character, describes it well. There is a difference here to a painter who paints, and the painter who brings out the nuances of beauty of the soul and paints a deeper story than meets the eye. Perhaps this is that museum where ten and twenty people will stop along the wall for that one painting, among so many, and be enthralled with it's beauty. Some will pass it by, too, having never been captured by its essence.

Thomas Taylor transcribed the essay of CONCERNING THE BEAUTIFUL by the Greek Plotinus, wherein he cites Homer et ceter. It is a look, too, into the divine essence. As Manly Hall wrote (SToAA) "Beauty is essential to the natural unfoldment of the human soul." This was what Joel seemed to look for as a painter.

These works, presented to the senses, either as seen in color and form, material architecture (mathematical and geometrical), the body and sound, works that resonate deeply into that deep place where one can glimpse God, or whatever that should be named. It is that cathedral of Fulcanelli, that black and white by Ansel Adams, that scene, even if for that slight breath that one sees in the dawn or day, or the heavens at night.
Along that line, we have some theories about color psychology, they propose that each color has a different psychological/emotional impact. In general terms, you are going to find more pleasing a painting, or photo with blue and orange, than one with black and red.

Found the spectrum relationships interesting relative to discussion of the Pre-Raphaelites, as the overwhelming preponderance of 'red' - as chosen hair colour for the 'muse' - has always struck me as something quite magical. Even more than emblematic of 'beauty', almost supernatural?


I had a love at first sight reaction when first encountering Preraphaelite art in my late teens. Over the years, my 'love' has not faded. Not sure how it fits with the idea that as you grow, your appreciation of what is beautiful changes. My appreciation for that art has never changed, maybe because there's something quite objectively beautiful about it? This type or art seems to "talk to" many people, whatever their background and artistic knowledge. As if there was something universal and transcendent about it.

When I look at those paintings I don't 'analyze' them or 'think' about them in any intellectual way. I just sit back and think 'Wow". It's my immediate reaction to something that I instinctively recognize as beautiful.

Exactly, having briefly studied Art History towards the end of my schooling, there was/is certainly something about the Pre-Raphaelites that transcends appreciation of simple technical prowess!

Found a lovely 15 minute tour from the Bowes Museum, displaying some beautiful detail.


So it seems like in art there is a scale of how much esoteric knowledge you must have. For example, in Mariana there is a depiction of the annunciation of Mary, which foreshadows an uplifting turn of events for the unfortunate Mariana. Would a random individual looking at this, especially today, be able to have read that much information and meaning into the stained glass depiction without knowing? On the other hand there is artwork which requires very little context in order to understand; for example in the two paintings below:


The styles are different but the subject matter is similar. I was wondering what people's impressions were of the differences or similarities between the two, especially in how one feels?

For myself, barring the difference in artistic skill, I think the more realistic one conveys a lot more in subtle visual cues to convey the emotion of motherly care and repose strictly in their postures and actions. Whereas in the former a lot of the emoting is assisted through the use of warm colors and icons of moons, flowers, and so on. I think someone who had less effective sensorimotor processing, especially with mirror neurons, would have a harder time assimilating some of the emotional material of the latter, whereas the former has more emotional cues to assist an individual. Many people who are on the autistic spectrum have difficulty deciphering non-verbal cues such as body language.

I shared the above compare/contrast experiment because I think comparing two very similar paintings but not identical and seeing what differences they stir in your thoughts and feelings can be one of the ways we can isolate the types of details our minds isolate and glean for information from art.

Like you, I prefer the more realistic one. It stirs emotions that I feel myself. (And have felt deeply in the past when holding my own children.)

The more abstract version is unsettling to me. I do see intellectually that the artist has tried to convey things with colors and symbols, but it only makes me think of someone having a psychedelic experience, detached from reality. To me, it conveys nothing of the depth of emotion a mother feels when holding her sleepy child; deep love, attachment, hopes, fears, etc.

We can probably appreciate Ra's statement from a philosophical or theoretical viewpoint. As created, subjective beings still learning a lot of lessons I think it wouldn't be in our best interests to be completely unbiased in what we blink at. So I'm sure aesthetic taste is woven into our DNA, for example in how we prefer to look at paintings with people or animals in them. Going deeper into this, there may be some pre-programmed "pattern of reality" we are designed to perceive, or due to morphogenic/information fields have historically perceived because our ancestors did. DNA damage due to karma, pollution, and the like probably can play a role in distorting that as well, in addition to however the soul's karma merges with the DNA during conception to orient one's lifeline in one direction or another.

So true.
It's interesting what happens, after paying close attention to one's psychic hygiene and refining one's emotions and aesthetic tastes, when you examine art or music that is orthogonal to the truth and reality that your unconscious primes you to pursue. You can feel repulsed by it. It's like quitting gluten, dairy, and sugar for years then having a stack of pancakes with whipped cream and maple syrup - the only difference is the effects are immediate since they come from sensory impressions instead of post-digestion inflammation or insulin shock. But some people can eat garbage and still feel great, and the same goes with art too. But I definitly still think it isn't "good" for them ultimately, except perhaps to faciliate certain lessons.

Excellent observation and a great contribution to the topic overall.
This is a great topic and I enjoy reading all responses!

When comes to art, I feel this is not really "my domain".
As any child, I loved to sing and dance, but as I was getting older I was told that I don´t know to sing and when I compared my dancing and paintings to others - I was bad at it.
At the same time, I was surrounded by friends who were excellent painters (one got to art school, others just painted for themselves and were really good at it), musicians (one played in an orchestra and almost all went to school to learn one instrument, while my parents didn´t think that was important and didn´t send me to one), and had beautiful voices.
Now I sing and dance for myself and paint only with my kids.

I always wanted to learn to sing and dance properly, but, that has not happened so far. As life moved me to work and now to kids, there seems that wasn´t time to push my interests in that direction. And when there was a time in the past, I wasn´t thinking about that.

So, my knowledge of various art styles is borderline at best. I can only say what I like or do not like.

The "music" I played for myself in the last days is the sounds of a fireplace - I found an online 24/7 fireplace (I don´t have one in my apartment) with cracking sounds and that was my background for reading.
I find all other music disturbing while reading, and normally, I prefer instrumental music backgrounds, if any.

As for art, I have limited knowledge of painters. I can only say what I like or do not like - what brings me emotion and what doesn´t.
I noticed that I like more realistic paintings than some abstract blobs of paint thrown on the canvas.
I really like what Adaryn posted; the colors and the details of the paintings are just beautiful. 😍

I.e. When I see different paintings of a man and a woman kissing:

Here are images that I find beautiful, that bring me warmth and it is clear what the artist wanted to say.

Here on the other hand, if I didn´t know that that was a painting of a kiss, it would probably take me a few moments to figure it out.
I also think my 7yo kid would paint a kiss better.... :-[

The same with the sculptures; I enjoy more sculptures where one sees the details of a man or woman depicted than some postmodernism or abstract that brings out no emotion in me whatsoever.

This topic also reminded me of something that was said in the last book of Survival Series; that real talent is rear in any field, but if we all avoided doing anything for which we are not exceptionally gifted, we would do almost nothing at all and would never discover what we can become.

My 2ct :-[
Hi, same than the post above from Mari, i do not have much clue on appreciating paintings ... and I did not read yet all the answers here in detail but in diagonal. But as we know, there are topics flying in the air and we catch them in our daily lives, and here, I had one TAB of my browser opened on this thread, and by browsing on twitter (after having followed a link posted on the covid thread about Assad speach), I found this tweet (or this meme) which is, I think, directly related to this subject :

The other thought I had when "reading" this thread is about a topic I read in the past, I don't know if this was on the forum here, it's about someone who compared and analysed the "cinema poster", you know, the "cover page" of any movie and I remember he was checking for the global difference of darkness/lightness, and guess what : from darker to darker "covers"/pictures, less colors also.
I do not think that here it's a concerted plan, but just a general tendency, humans follow what's in the air (darker period)

I hope not being off-topic 😓
I've been meaning to reply to and read this thread, and wanted to start with my thoughts before reading the replies. It sounds like a fun and useful experiment, to assess and align our concept of beauty.

I've taken to regular perusing of visual 2D art for around a decade, and also making some of my own art. I'd hope that I have a sort of eye for the positive ideals of beauty. I think I've seen beauty described as symmetry. I'd think there is some kind of mathematical formula encoded in it. The human figure is usually thought of as beautiful, hence life drawing. Since humans are the widely accepted most advanced life form on the planet, that ideal is one that everyone can relate to.

Personally, I like thick lines in 2D art, like Mucha or a comic book style. Also watercolor wash textures along with high contrast. And something I borrowed from Jordan Peterson is the use of order and chaos. I think it's also called simplicity vs. complexity, or the 80/20 rule. Basically some areas that give your eye a sort of rest.

I've seen a lot of off-putting things when browsing art online. You're bound to encounter these things when doing a broad approach. Basically dark and macabre things and overly sexual content. I guess that's the world we live in, but some of it is probably due to entertainment genres like horror. And it does seem like you can tell a lot about a person's inner landscape by what content they create.

Is the emotional evoking attribute specific to visual beauty? I find music more emotionally moving, so maybe it's a brain wiring / visual vs. auditory processing thing?


While reading I thought of this:

T.C. Lethbridge and the idea of the energetic signature that is imbued with objects we interact with. This is not so for art prints and reproductions. I once saw a Monet painting in real life that I did a study of in art class and it was interesting.

Jordan Peterson has said that beauty connects you to the transcendent. And that's why seeing a beautiful woman is striking and reminds you of who you could be.

As far as whitecoast's two "Mother and Child" images, I like the first one better. I prefer high contrast, flowy and dark outlines. I don't get much emotional impact from images, save maybe cute animal images. If I get a "Wow!" moment, it's more technical as in the lighting is realistic, or it has aspects of the style I like. Although I prefer Impressionism, there are artworks that I find to be too detailed and "noisy".

A tip for checking the values of art in Windows is to go to: Start > Settings > Ease of Access > Color filters > Allow the shortcut key to toggle filter on or off. Then choose grayscale. Now Win + Ctrl + C will make the display gray and you can check the values of images.

I've looked up some Regency fashion and paintings recently. It seems that two notable masters of this short era are Charles Haigh-Wood and Edmund Leighton. Here are two paintings by them:

Charles Haigh-Wood - Thoughtful Moments.jpg

Edmund Blair Leighton - Signing the Register.jpg

I haven't watched the posted videos here, and even the thread might need to be revisited in full. Visual art appreciation is something that changes over time, so it can be something that is refined. Anyways, thank you for the interesting and thought provoking thread!
Not sure if this place is good for this painting? Maybe. A bit fun.
Seen in light of the allegory of the Mouravieff coach.

Painter: Alexandre Josquin taken from link below:
wagon company path.jpg

Is there a Lord in the Wagon? Is Peasant (Reason) aware of existance of the Master? He is so absorbed with keeping horses on the path. However the path they chose is "right" was he able to listen to the Master voice from the inside of the wagon? Looks like it is a good path. In the wagon Horseman is accompanied by woman and child. Are those his split personalities? Attachements? or Maybe woman depicts the Master? or maybe child depicts the Master? Or maybe mother and child depicts the Master? Or maybe the Master is the Love that keeps them together? It looks they go to the village. Left path is complete unknown and looks like dog (some intuition, gut feeling) is keeping the horses to stay on the straight right path, helping the reason to lead them. Good thing is that Horseman is in control and tries to keep horses in line. He is not asleep. Is he doing it for himself? For me it looks that he takes care of his family and property listening to the Love that is the Master. Horses are anxious but still on the path. Like four main emotions: anger, fear, sadness, joy. Anger would like to pull faster? Fear would like to escape? Horseman is in control thou, tries to discipline them - would he manage? Path is muddy, tiresom. They look prepared for a long way as wagon looks stuffed. Wagon got stuck a bit in the rails. Will it manage the rest of the path? Weather is not good. Stormy. Getting dark. This adds up to the drama. Village is still far away. Maybe village is final destination or only a stop by, but anyway safe heaven to wait for the night and storm to the end.View attachment 51591
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It is often said that "Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder" to imply that beauty is totally subjective and so something that appears to be ugly to one person would appear beautiful to another. That is true.
On the other hand, if someone finds a dump of trash beautiful while they find a stream of water in the mountains ugly, you would probably question their sanity.

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder because the beholder can be aligned with objective beauty they see, the divine art, or they can be orthogonal to it. There are degrees in between of course. The eyes of the beholder are a mirror of their soul.
Thanks mkrnhr for bringing up the topic, super interesting!, brought me some thoughts and info about it, sure that beauty, or the interpretation of beauty from or aligned with objective beauty as you say, sounds like a wonderful task. Especially because it occurs to me that it could be an exploration of an individual and unique part of the interpretation of beauty to be explored and at the same time a shared universal truth.

Also about beauty, it is interesting as a historical fact we have Hippias Major ,Plato , as the Greeks begin to question what beauty is, and then you have a long list of authors in philosophy who also talk about it as well.
Hippias Major (or What is Beauty? or Greater Hippias (Greek: Ἱππίας μείζων, Hippías meízōn), is one of the dialogues of Plato, although a date of c. 390 BC has been suggested.

This begs the question of whether it is possible to align one's own aesthetic sense to align with the objective beauty that is presented to us in the universe, especially through the visual medium, since other aspects have been discussed in the forum already. In other words, what would be the elements of visual beauty that we could search for in the pictures (paintings or photographs) we hang on our homes' walls for instance, that could help us get in a better alignment of our inner selves with the objective beauty and creative principles of the universe, as revealed in the real and the true.

Honing our judgment in experiencing Beauty without the distorting baggage of past and present entropic influences can be transformative. And the exercise can be one additional tool in the Work’s toolbox for self-transformation and reality shaping in these turbulent times.
The fascinating thing about living in these times, it seems to me, is that we could if we want to align ourselves to observe a more complete or divine truth of things or if we are fortunate enough to prepare and be ready for it, today we can take a look at what happened in the past and a little bit of where the future is heading to, I recognize that we live in times of much disinformation but it seems to me that in that excess of information we can also see some truths and in an accelerated way unlike when I remember when I was a child, there was no internet, there was no way to find out or know about things if you did not have the books in a physical way.
So, I hope I haven't missed the point, or what I mean is that today we can contemplate the parts of history or the world that as human beings do not serve to grow in a complete and balanced way, of the interior and its projection in the physical as well as in the things that project beauty and balance.

On the other hand, from the point of view of the history of representation in the visual arts, be it painting, sculpture, etc., whether there is beauty or not, in part it has been a tool for communication that has been used for different purposes. I think this is a very extensive topic, but what I am going to say is that today we have a greater knowledge that allows us to choose, then it seems to me, it occurs to me that we could be grateful that thanks to all this journey in history allows us to choose and have a perspective, for example in the middle ages or before and still another so much in the renaissance the majority of the population did not know how to read or write, only the monks and the church as an institution controlled part of the information with the production of paintings or "images" that "educated" the majority of the poor population through images.
So it seems to me that if you read a little bit about the history of art or philosophy you can find a great variety of nuances about why society produced certain "images" or "ideals" of beauty.

Personally, as far as inspirational images are concerned, I like Renaissance art very much, because it is one of the points in history where the pictorial technique reaches an unequalled mastery.
It is a feast for the eye to observe these paintings if you have the opportunity in the museums.
I like this painting Johannes Vermeer's Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (1657-59)
Perhaps, it has to do with frequency. Perhaps, when we start cleaning ourselves and working on becoming a better people who can also see and appreciate better things, we don't resonate anymore with forms of art that we used to like, for example, and we start to appreciate other types of art, and little by little, we align ourselves with what is best.
The importance of composition, and technique have been diminished by the postmodern paradigm in favor of subjective theoretical justification, and glorification of the artist's emotions... there's no connection to something transcendental; the artist, his perception (even if twisted), and emotions are the focus of their art. Talk about nihilism and narcissism.

I agree, now I don't listen or feel the music in the same way wen I was between 15-25 years old. As time goes by, I have wanted to listen to music with lyrics that motivate to think or have some objectivity in their lyrics, because what I used to think was romantic now I see that it was only music that motivated to possession, a toxic attitude, always a victim, always connected with low emotions. The "artist" bleeding into my ears. So yes, it seems that our senses to art seem to be cleansed as we cleanse our internal state too. Or we better perceive that the "artist" should better ask for help for his inner state 🤣

I have an ability for artistic drawing, but I'm not one to go to museums or call everything "that's art!" and for some reason that I haven't delved into, I only like the art of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, that style of realism that I love. I stopped drawing since the moment I haven't connected with anything, it's strange, I will not paint without a purpose.

But to what extent does it really affect us? or what makes us more susceptible to our environment depending on the amount of geometric shapes around us? Sometimes I tell myself that I must be out of sorts, nothing appeals to me.
Jordan Peterson has said that beauty connects you to the transcendent. And that's why seeing a beautiful woman is striking and reminds you of who you could be.
I like this one ;-) It's maybe only for me but I think the beauty in anything is a deep feeling of relating to something.
Anything that is close, pleasant, intimate, inspiring or aiming. A subcsonsious recognition of higher meaning.
Divine. But considering to our level of growth and polarisation we have different 'tasts' for things.

When we started plans for building a new home 3 years ago, many people were shocked when when we showed
skatches of what we wanted. Including our architect.
We bought and teared down 100 year old house cause it was too bad for renovation.
The house was build 1904. in Seccesion style tipical for our county.
Long story short - we built exacly the same house with the same facade, ornaments etc..
We used and renovated everything we could so it could be authentic
and to blend in envirnoment as much as possible.
There are few more old houses from that time near, but unfortunately young people who inherit them
don't find them beautiful so that old homes end up being teared down and replaced with fancy modern one.

That kind of achitecture was so warm and beautiful back then and for us now, it
deserves to be preserved and seen for future generations.
It is tradition, devotion for our ancestors - the skilled craftsmen who knew how to incorporate their soul
in that homes.
In every single piece of it made through the hard times.
So our venture is like homage to their love, longings ,artistry and matter what others think.
I've just listened to this conversation and I thought it fits this thread, so I'm posting it here.

The conversation deals with VALUE so not only Beauty, but they talk about Beauty quite a lot as it is one of the highest values, along with truth and goodness.

There are so many interesting things in the conversation but I'll just post a few things I remember right now as 'teaser' for it:

- Beauty is a universal value. It is pre-human and primordial, not something that we create as humans beings but something we discover. Perhaps the purpose of our existence is, in fact, to discover these values such as Beauty and respond to them.

They talk about how these values are actually manifestations of what we may call God, the Divine, etc, and how this Creator, God, Divine is constantly creating in an act of knowing itself. So, I though that as we discover and respond to these values, are part of that interaction in which we respond to the Divine and reflect back to it.

There's a lot more, but beware, they do mention Darwin in a positive regard! But the conversation is also about how reductionist materialism is wrong, so it's all good! ;-)

And that's all I'll say now, I hope you find it interesting!
There is something, perhaps unrelated, that has been bothering me for a little while. It relates not only to the so-called digital art, but most broadly to screen life, i.e. people staring at their screens all the time with little exploration of the real world. This is related to the perception of color.
The human visual system perceives a large space of colors, based on the interpretation of the differential stimulation of light sensors in the eyes. Screens, in general, trigger that perception using three colors, red, green and blue. To simplify, every "pixels" in the screen is in fact three pixels with these three colors, and the combination of the intensities of these pixels (little color lamps) gives a certain color.
No consider the following diagram:
The points of the inner triangle are the colors of the three little lamps that constitute a screen pixel, and the interior of the screen are the colors (at a standard intensity) that can be produced by these three colors. The big horseshoe encompasses the colors that can be perceived by average humans. Different screen systems have more or less big triangles within this horseshoe but triangles nonetheless.
The gray area is the colors that are not reproducible by this particular brand of a screen. The edge corresponds to the colors of the rainbow (or lasers at certain colors). For example, the true color of a green laser cannot be exactly reproduced on a screen.
One can argue that the difference in "shades of colors" is very small in these gray areas, which is true, but they are variations in color perception.
Now this is what bothers me, which could be nothing. If someone has only seen vegetation, the sky, or the sea on digital screens, they have never seen the true colors of vegetation, the sky and the sky, only a compressed imitation. Those who have seen them before may compensate the colors in their minds, the same way one compensates colors in different illumination conditions. Whenever I search for pictures of the sea (love of my life) I'm always disappointed. Maybe that's why. Again it could be baseless speculation.
I've just listened to this conversation and I thought it fits this thread, so I'm posting it here.

The conversation deals with VALUE so not only Beauty, but they talk about Beauty quite a lot as it is one of the highest values, along with truth and goodness.

There are so many interesting things in the conversation but I'll just post a few things I remember right now as 'teaser' for it:

- Beauty is a universal value. It is pre-human and primordial, not something that we create as humans beings but something we discover. Perhaps the purpose of our existence is, in fact, to discover these values such as Beauty and respond to them.

They talk about how these values are actually manifestations of what we may call God, the Divine, etc, and how this Creator, God, Divine is constantly creating in an act of knowing itself. So, I though that as we discover and respond to these values, are part of that interaction in which we respond to the Divine and reflect back to it.

There's a lot more, but beware, they do mention Darwin in a positive regard! But the conversation is also about how reductionist materialism is wrong, so it's all good! ;-)

And that's all I'll say now, I hope you find it interesting!

oups, the video is over an hour, i do not have this much time in my life. so, i thank you for your summary, to which i can fully subscribe...
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