For our Artist Study this term we are studying Johannes Vermeer. What is there to say or write about Vermeer? Of his life there is not much in comparison to the other artists we have studied, for very little is known about him. He has been described as “industrious” in terms of the number of pictures he is believed to have produced, many of which have been lost over the years. He is also known to be a “sympathetic” artist whose unique skill of taking what would be considered plain and ordinary and producing a piece of work that captivates its viewers centuries later. Maybe Vermeer understand what many of us have yet to learn; less is more.
The other day as the children and I were studying “The Little Street” it suddenly occurred to me how a few simple minutes of focused attention on a piece of art can lift a cloudy mood. Here is a painting of Vermeer’s home. There is nothing fancy or awe-inspiring in the painting. There are two children playing under a bench, an elderly lady sits at the door watching them as she works on some lace while a maid is at a pump in an alley-yard. There is a red-brick house, some cobblestones, and a pale-gray sky above. I’m not by any means a connoisseur of fine art but I feel that this is the point Vermeer was making. My days are simple but busy in an undignified sort of way. I am just a mother, busy with household duties, raising children and attending to friends when they are in need through simple prayers and words of encouragement. How lovely and delightful it is to hold in my hands a mere photocopy of a Dutch artist who painted what still holds true to so many hundreds of years later; a painting of home and happiness is one that is plain and full of everyday things.