The Art–and Artistry–of Storytelling
“The look is the meaning.”
The late John Brealey, one of the world’s most renowned conservators of paintings, said that in reference to the tedious practice of painting restoration.
In a brief article entitled “Who Needs A Conservator?” (page 19 of the PDF), Brealey critiques modern conservation techniques and calls for a reevaluation of principles. He calls for a return to the original intent of the artist.
If the painting is not kept at the forefront of the conservator’s mind while she sets about her work, then the painting will cease to be the exuberant celebration of the artist’s aspirations; it will comply to the dulling effects of a tunnel vision technique that discards the artist’s original intent.
For instance, Brealey comments on the dangers of hasty color restoration when facing the corrosive effects of oxidation.
He writes, “Along with the inevitable discoloration of the aging varnish there is a loss of translucence, a growing opacity, so that the lights become darker and the darks become lighter—aesthetically the equivalent of listening to a symphony through closed doors so that the high notes and bass are muffled and the essential life of the composition is destroyed.”
A painting can only be restored to its original richness if the aesthetic intent of the artist is honored. This same ethic which Brealey champions must be applied with all vigor to the storytelling business.
In the same way that the conservation of paintings requires utmost care and perspective, the sharing of impact stories is not to be overlooked or treated as a means to an end.
Impact stories are sacred works of art because they are the result of something that would not exist without the generosity of a benefactor. The beauty of humanity lies within their intricate enfoldings, whether embellished or mundane, waiting to be revealed.
Like the artist, the beneficiary has a grand masterpiece to unveil–the impact that generosity has created. While many people can communicate a story, not everyone has the artist’s eye (or resources!) to do so effectively.
With our help you can share stories with the value and attention they deserve.