Paint Speaks, Loudly and Softly


Art can have its own voice: an active or a passive voice. The difference in voice in language is determined by subject of sentence. If it performs the action it is active and if it receives the action, then it is passive. Did you eat it (Active) or was it eaten by  you (Passive). The issue is how the action occurs.

If a painting has an active voice it can be found in the same way. What is the subject of the painting and does it make the people who view it want to stand and look longer, as compared to a passive voice which evokes just a shorter look. 

Bold textures, vivid colors and strong contrasts, like those found in oil painting, present active subject areas. Smoother textures, more neutral colors, and less bold colors all create relationships that express passive areas.

Sometimes a painting is either all active, or all passive, but sometimes an artist may blend and present two types of expressions in the same work. It is tempting to take a quite peaceful setting and add something bold.