In the Details
I end up house-painting a lot. It seems to be the first go-to, the poor man’s remodel. Any fool can pick up a paint brush, it would seem.
It seems that details are what makes the difference between a good and bad job. That is actually the reason I seem to end up painting a lot, to cover up the bad work of those who came before me. I end up with a paint brush in my hand and a caulking gun, filling the gaps in bad mitre joints and trying to cover over the rough edge of the last painter, who brushed up multiple times onto the ceiling and just kept on going like a drunk driver.
Bad jobs also seem to go with bad taste. Our bedroom was the last of those last rooms to be freed from the bane of “Holiday Inn” colours - drab mossy greens, kaka browns, and variations on peach. Another thing inexplicable to me: I think all the doors in the house and the trim, were replaced in a bid to sell the house. Small detail - the doors were hung and left the tawdry off-white of the primer... just how they come straight from the store. They did not match the white of the painted trim and nobody seemed to care about the visual dissonance. The latches are pre-cut in those doors and they did not match the holes in the door jamb from the previous doors. Rather than patch the holes and reposition new ones to match the latch on the doors, the installer just left them unable to close properly.
To survey the job, you could detail a thousand small things done badly that all added up to one big, bad job.
Life is just like that, a collection of details. They either bother the eye and you may not be able to quantify why, or they are consciously put right and add up to beauty, order, and quality that is of the pedestrian sort, but beauty nonetheless.
I have found this in the design world as well, Sometimes things are just badly executed. They need to be fixed with a bit of attention to detail. Going over a thousand small details fixes things and the untrained eye recognizes it without perhaps being able to say why.
Just like the theory of Feng Shui, human beings instinctively recognize and react in positive ways to a sense of order that adds up to beauty. It seems to be implicit in nature as well, when you survey a sunset, or a green and rolling vista. Something is just right, and you feel the power of that order like a hidden and intentional hand behind the scenes.
The Shakers had a saying, “God is in the details”. Such pronouncements make me love and respect the profession I am in, to be an artist. Beauty is important and I count myself privileged to witness it, and even perhaps to weigh in and add to it if I try hard enough with my life. It is not just the visual things, it is everything that makes up the man.
There is a maxim oft repeated in legal circles, that talks about details as they pertain to human morality. “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus”. It is Latin for “False in one thing, false in everything.” Yes, God is in the details, even the details that make up a man. Perhaps his hand is most needed to lend beauty, and perception enough to pinpoint those things which need to be put into order.
Oh God, you made me an artist. Now, make me an artist of my everyday life, all those tiny details which make up the whole man, just as you intended.