Today, I am inspired by this picture, taken by my lovely sister. She captioned it: reflections. And it was that word that caught me, because I was reminded of a quote. The funny thing is that in looking for that quote, I found another quote about reflections that I really liked. Our lovely friend, Pablo Picasso, said, “Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter?” And knowing who Picasso is, we can guess what answer he was trying to get at. But it does bring up an interesting question, so I decided to dwell on it today.
The photographer sees the human face through the lens. Though it is a person, it is the lens who captures the photo, and lenses won’t be biased about a person. The photographer could mess with the angle or the setting or the editing to put in their opinion of the subject. But the end result is a realistic view of a person. Sherlock Holmes would be able to deduct all sorts of factual details about the person from the photo, but alas, no one can truly know someone from a photograph.
The mirror is trickier, because the person looking through the mirror is you. You, who know all of your triumphs, all of your faults, are the one judging yourself. This view is even more realistic than the photograph, because you see everything. You will see that terrible mole under your eye. You will remember when your carelessness hurt that one person. And more often than not, that’s all you will see. You could be conceited and just find yourself incredibly gorgeous. But most of us will see ourselves and see our faults.
And the painter. The painter offers the view of you that is least based on facts. The painter is not only looking for the shape of your nose; they are also looking for the sparkle in your eye, the confident flip of your hair, the lips that offer words that comfort and console. Even if the painter has known you your whole life, they will not see you as the person who makes mistakes. They will see you as the beautiful, glorious creation that you are.
Because that’s what artists do. Artists reveal the soul of their subjects. And yes, sometimes they show the bad stuff to prove a point and speak the truth. But artists do not look for the ugly. They look for the beautiful. And that is why, even when they paint that detested mole or ungainly jaw of yours, they don’t see it as something ugly.They see it as the truth. They see that you are not perfect. But they’re okay with that. Because they know that they are not perfect either. You aren’t perfect. I am not perfect. None of us are perfect. And we can be so much more forgiving of each other and of ourselves when we realize that.
But because we fail, because we are irrevocably not perfect, it can make us see and appreciate the beautiful even more.