“The Aroma of Art” * Nonfiction * Amy Nicholson

I swung open the glass gallery door, and the smell of paint hit me before my eyes even focused on the canvases. Inside was an exhibit of the work of Sean Scully. So. Much. Paint.

The pieces consisted of thick, bold lines–mostly horizontal–painted on oil and acrylic on large canvases, aluminum, and wood. Scully is fond of earth tones of browns, greens, brick, and blue, resembling land, sky, and sea. Today, as I queue up Scully’s Landline Far Blue Lake on my computer, I am transported out of my home office that’s been the hub of my life since the pandemic began so many months ago and to the shore of the Vermont lake we’d visit every summer. Every summer, that is, until COVID hit. The orderliness and symmetry of Scully’s lines quell my disappointment and bring me peace. I can still go. In my mind. More than the lake, though, I miss the smell of paint.

That day I walked into the Scully exhibit at the Wadsworth Antheneum, I quickly ran out to find my son, David, still in the adjoining gallery. I was anxious to share my olfactory discovery with him, a soon-to-be-art student at Maine College of Art. We had visited various art schools. Touring their studios always brought me a similar thrill. The smell of the paint signaled the birth of art. David needed to take a whiff of that gallery.

As we made our way to the Scully exhibit, we admired the other work in the museum. Much of the paint, of course, had long since dried. But opening that door once again with my budding artist was excitement. A fresh wave of optimism, creativity, endless possibility.


—About the Author—

Amy Nicholson writes but also stops to smell the roses climbing the fence in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint. She has words in Ruminate Readers Notes, The Old Schoolhouse, Today’s American Catholic, etc. and at amynicholson14.wordpress.com Tweets: @amylynn714.