What could your personal image and the vision of Camille Pissarro, the dean of Impressionism, have in common? My cheeky answer is that image is in the eye of the beholder. But there’s actually much more to it than that.
Most of Camille Pissarro’s professional life was dedicated to painting peasants in the French countryside. He had an eye for seeing the simple beauty of the lifestyle of the farming peasant. His painting style was very sophisticated, yet his process was intended to be easy, direct, honest, and complete. He would actually sit outside where his subjects were, and paint the entire scene to completion. Many of his contemporaries would begin their works the same way, but would then complete their works at a later time, relying on their memory of the scene to help them complete the image. But Pissarro wanted to capture the full reality of the moment.
Pissarro celebrated, and in my opinion, romanticized the people featured in his paintings. Though he was also masterful at painting architecture and landscapes, he shined brightest when people were the key focus of his artworks. The way he painted farmers working in the countryside, or children at play, really honors these real people with a sense of dignity. In studying Pissarro’s paintings over the years, including at the Legion of Honor’s brand new exhibit, “Pissarro’s People,” I truly get the sense that he felt these people worthy of his respect as a painter, and ours as appreciators of the art.
A painting I found particularly striking was the subject of a great conversation with my close friend Peter. He’s a painter and knows about techniques and found this piece to defy certain rules on a technical level. But its masterpiece status lays in what made us look at it and talk about it for several minutes.
This painting has a perfectly blue gray sky. Below is this wonderful rolling field. Both serve as the painting’s background. In the foreground, the painting’s focal point is a group of four seemingly content and sturdy-looking peasant women working in the field. Behind the women are a few trees with no leaves. With no snow or leaves visible on the ground, you get the impression that spring is near. The trees seem symbolic, as if each one is there to idealize the strength of each of the women. They may not have much to show for themselves, but they’re strong survivors of winter’s harsh conditions. The painting is sublime. Gazing at it for an extended time brought me to cry as though I had experienced the truth of those women and of that place.
Last week while working with one of my wonderful new clients, we reviewed the results of her personal color profile. We talked through the branding terms tied to her specially chosen colors that bring them greater meaning and value. She provided me with feedback about these words, their relevance in her life and forward-thinking goals, liking and agreeing with what was being shared. And then she said, “You really believe in me. Like, you’re not just saying this to me. You really believe in me.” She was totally right. Those words serve to paint a mental picture of a person. That’s exactly what a self-image is. Like Pissarro, who painted people with respect, every interaction clients have with me is designed based upon that same level of respect – and care.
When it comes to envisioning how to evolve your personal image, it’s so important to look for those qualities within yourself that represent your truth. Then, like a master Impressionist, it’s really important to see that vision all the way through and to be accurate about it.
That sounds simple enough. But not everyone paints like Pissarro [if you even paint], and not everyone sees themselves totally objectively either. That’s why the world has painters and people like me to help show the way to the truth and potential we’re all in search of.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps high-profile individuals revitalize, manage, and be secure in their personal visual brand. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.