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Artfully Said–In or Out?

Northeaster, Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine), Oil on canvas, American

Winslow Homer, Northeaster, 1901, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (Public Domain)

Homer was not only a painter. He was also an editor of his paintings. According to the Met’s description, this version of Northeaster is different from when it first appeared in 1896. Its seems that the original painting included two human figures on the rocks. In 1901, they were gone, edited out by the artist. Washed into the sea? Airlifted away by hot air balloon? Walked home for dinner? We’ll never know.

Does it matter?

Take a walk at a natural spot near you. Describe what you see and feel, what you smell and hear. Make it come alive like the Winslow’s waves crashing on those rocks. Make yourself the narrator, an important part of the picture. Let your senses engage and capture that engagement in your words.

Now, revise. But this time take yourself (and any other evidence of humanity) out of the picture.

How are the two versions different? Which one is better? Is one better?