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Pictures from the Masters

by Randall Craig on July 5, 2011

Filed in: Blog, Blogging, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Presentations

Tagged as: , , ,

Van Gogh self-portrait Van Gogh self-portrait

Have you ever spent time looking at the European Masters – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and the many others?  During their era, there were no newspapers, telephones, let alone an internet.  When a subject sat down to be painted, it was often for hours, not minutes.  And the resulting painting was designed to last well into the future, if not forever.

Today, we go to the world’s museums and galleries to admire the Masters.  We see how each brush stroke creates the picture, but often so much more: a window into the emotions of the painter.   And we marvel how indeed, their work has stood the test of time.

Unfortunately, we are not so careful with what we write today.  In our day of information overload and focus on the quick, our writing often misses nuance, is easily misinterpreted, and is not expected to stand the test of time.  What will people think about us when they read what we have written, several hundred years into the future?

Rembrandt self portrait Rembrandt self portrait

This week’s action plan: Before you hit “send”, before you post that blog, or send that tweet.  Before you write that memo, make that presentation, or speak to your colleagues, first make sure that what you write or say has some staying power.  If it isn’t important, then don’t say it.  But if it is, write like a Master paints.

Postscript: Spending the day at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, this is what I was thinking when I saw the paintings on display there.  I found the contrast between the Van Gogh and Rembrandt self-portraits particularly striking.

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Randall Craig