Try Not To Stare

I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art  the other day to revisit some favorite paintings. One of them was this painting by Thomas Moran:
Thomas Moran Teton Range
In the American Wing (glad to see at least some of the paintings are being hung correctly so that the overhead lights dont’ throw a glare on the painting) I realized that I was only spending about thirty seconds to a minute actually looking at the paintings. I have spent hours in front of paintings doing master copies, I can certainly spend a good twenty minutes in front a of a painting if I am sketching or taking notes about it; but I found it very difficult to just ‘look’.
I looked at my watch and told myself I would look at this painting for five minutes. The first two minutes were torture (and this is one of my favorite paintings!), and made me realize how we are conditioned to glance, to expect an image before us to change in some way (as in moving images); It is easy to become quite restless when they don’t.
However, after about two minutes the painting, or rather, how I was looking at it, began to change, and I noticed things about the color and composition I had not noticed in my sub-30 second looks at it.
It was almost as if the painting did became a moving image because different aspect of it ‘come to life’.

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