Leo Burton is a Herron Morton Place resident, 8th grader at Center for Inquiry #27, and frequent HCA First Friday attendee.
It’s easy for me to just make up a short story with the girl in the blue dress as the main character and somehow obscurely base the plot on some small details in this painting by Kyle Ragsdale, but there are people that can take a look--one look--at this painting and be inspired to write a whole novel, connecting every little detail… This girl in “Shadow Land” seems like the type of person that could write a novel after looking at the light falling on the leaves.
She seems to be waiting for something inevitable, whether it is for better or for worse we can't know, for there are some things that only one person can realize that may seem obvious but when introduced to others can be considered impossible. This girl seems to be among the few that have figured out that some things you have to know singularly that no one else will know. This painting has that effect on me. It looks cold there, something about the light in between the leaves on the trees, I don't know if this is intentional but there's something about how it's tinged with just the slightest of greys. Maybe I’m seeing things.
I see it unbefitting to continue this “story” without naming the main character so after careful and somewhat random consideration I have decided on Agnes. Now I'm not saying that she looks like an Agnes or that you can't have your own name for her. But that’s my name for her. Anyway, Agnes looks as though she is lost in a way that she knows her way back however she wishes not to, like when you receive bad news and you feel like you want to be alone for the rest of your life. Like when you see the light from the shadows. Sometimes you have to be alone for a while no matter who wants to talk to you; you need silent peace in order to recognize the loud chaos that is everyday life… This is all just an elongated point to say that, to me, the way she is positioned makes her look sad.
Sometimes when you pause and have a deep thought, or when you see something that grabs your attention and holds it and you stand and stare for way longer than you intended to and then finally you blink a few times and realize you've been standing and staring for more than a few seconds... It would be great if you could consciously have this experience and choose when you do this so you could purposely have a deep thought alone in a beautiful place. However these occasions are few and spread far apart and take ahold when we don’t expect it. But that’s why when you have a deep thought in a beautiful place–alone–it is truly one of the best experiences that a human can have.
I was looking at the painting when I realized that I had stared at the image so long without really looking at the technique or the style which adds a whole new textured layer to the painting literally (sorry). I guess I experienced what Agnes was doing. Anyway, the way the paint is put on the canvas is in a unique style that kind of reminds me of Vincent van Gogh... almost like it’s three dimensional. The paint sticks out from the canvas which I think is very cool–except for Agnes and her two trees which are completely flat. Maybe this is representing that the girl and the trees are the only objects not creating shadows.
The trees are an interesting part of the painting–not all the trees, just the two that she's standing close to. It just seems like either she's out of place or the two trees are out of place almost as if they are one, somehow… and I love that this can be captured in a painting. There is another painting called “Forest Floor” by Kyle where there are three girls, one of which look suspiciously like the girl from “Shadow Land” (light blue dress, blond hair, one leg bent). Now I may be making connections where there are none but, to me, those two shadowy symmetrical trees could possibly be symbolic of the other two girls still standing silently beside Agnes–inseparable and protective, no matter what.
Again I really don't like to make false connections. However this story doesn’t have to be accurate, it can just be symbolic for how I interpreted it. This painting (both content and technique) causes a lot of thought in a pleasant way, in an unintentionally time-passing kind of away. I had a fun time writing this article; it gave a lot to consider…