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Fine Art/What do waves REALLY look like?



A question I've long wondered about:

In traditional (say, pre-photography) Japan, if you asked a Japanese which looked more like a wave: the traditional Japanese "curlicue" wave in a traditional Japanese painting or a "naturalistic" wave in an American painting, would he say "A" or "B"?

[A] The Japanese "curlicue: wave looks more like a wave REALLY looks.


[B] The "naturalistic" wave looks more like a wave really looks, but the curlicue wave feels more like a wave feels.

Many thanks,


I think he would answer B -- that portraying the outward appearance of a wave is one thing and portraying the spirit of all waves is another.  Two different foci in representation of the physical world.

Thank you for asking such an interesting question.

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Alison McMahon Johnson


Art history, materials and techniques of drawing and painting, drawing, painting, lighting


Past/Present clients
Paintings hanging in Government Information Office, Taipei, Taiwan; cultural centers in LA and NY; in private collections around the world.

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