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Lee McIntyre
Canadian Inner Landscape Artist
Canadian Inner Landscape Artist


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I just finished reading Jason Horejs's article, "A Love Letter to Art, Or What it All Means to Me"

Jason asked readers to share their experiences of falling in love with art and I was reminded of a story I wrote on Valentine's Day a couple of years ago. Cheesy as the story may be, my experience was genuine and the scientific research fascinating:

February 14, 2012
Diamonds from Vincent:  A Love Story

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to view the travelling exhibit, "Post-Impressionist Masterworks From the National Gallery of Canada". As I wandered around enjoying the wonderful works from Cezanne to Matisse, something from across the room caught my attention. Turning around, my heart began to race, my knees went audible breath escaped from my lungs. As butterflies swirled around in my stomach, my wobbly legs somehow carried me through the crowd. Now, standing face-to-face, no words were uttered...he simply handed me a "Bowl with Zinnias and Other Flowers". 

Neither before or since, have I seen whites sparkle and dance like these...not really whites at all just pure brilliant light. Mesmerized, I stood there, unable to move and oblivious to the passage of time and the other admirers vying for his attention. As the crowds thinned, a security guard (with a knowing smile that said he'd seen it happen many times before), gently brought me back from was time to go, the gallery was closing. And as I floated home I knew, without question, that I had just fallen in love...with daubs of paint that shone like diamonds and with the artist whose loving hands had transformed them.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I happened across the research of Dr. Semir Zeki, professor of neuroesthetics at University College London. Confirming the anecdotal wisdom of artists and art lovers throughout history...viewing beautiful art does indeed mimic the experience of falling in love. Using brain-mapping technology, Dr. Zeki observed that, as a subject viewed art that they found beautiful, an immediate reaction occurred where dopamine (that "feel good" neurotransmitter) started pouring into the orbito-frontal cortex of the brain. In other words, when we perceive beauty, the pleasure centres of the brain are instantly, biochemically stimulated and we enter the exhilarating state of love and desire.
In honour of Valentine's Day, whether you're single or coupled up, I encourage you to let art play cupid. Visit a gallery, doodle your lover's name in hearts or dream of a painting that takes your breath away. And, should cupid's bow hit hard and true, throw all caution to the wind, take leave of your senses, delight in being the young fool in love -- pull out your credit card, give that sensible retirement fund a break from its boring existence -- buy yourself or someone you love a beautiful piece of art. Your finances will recover and in the meantime your body, mind and spirit will flourish with the dopamine-enhanced benefits of gazing at your equivalent of "Bowl with Zinnias and Other Flowers".
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