Painting Nostalgia

Painting nostalgia invokes wistful yearning for the past using generational clues, natural time markers and vintage compositions. “My Parents’ Wedding Day”, is a remembrance painting. Viewers know that this art is a period piece through the depiction of artifacts (my father’s military uniform and my mom’s now-vintage wedding dress) as well as the wistful hues that make the oil painting look almost like a colorized photograph.

Nostalgia art is easy to recognize when it features people; clothing is a basic and powerful generational clue. A vintage wardrobe is also supported by hair styles, color scheme, and other objects (for example, trends in floral bouquets). In remembrance paintings, nostalgia is created through period piece compositions.

Another style of nostalgia painting is reminiscent. Reminiscence happens when we see something that reminds us of something else. Trees are often older than we are, and have seen many generations come and go. For many people, the sight of trees creates nostalgia for days gone by. For this reason, painting nature can be a type of nostalgia art.

Perhaps an old tree like “Tree on Rock Hill” encourages us to let go of yearning to recreate memories, and instead accept the past as in the past. Like the roots of a tree, even when our past is no longer visible it remains. We are meant to grow from it, not remain stagnant or wither; the past is our foundation for growth. Letting go of pining or regret while embracing positive reminiscence, inspires the pursuit of new life adventures.

A retrospect style of nostalgia painting invites the viewer to look back on the past. While remembrance art such as “My Parents’ Wedding Day” shows itself clearly as a period piece, and reminiscence art like “Tree on Rock Hill” takes the opposite strategy (not straightforward, uses one object to remind viewers of something else, and this may not even be noticed by the viewer), a retrospect painting is a comfortable middle between overt remembrance and so-subtle-as-to-be-missed reminiscence.

A retrospect painting is a soft journey into the past, where warm fuzzy memories await. In “Peach Pie” comfort food served up by golden brown, red, and yellow hues welcomes us to the table. Painting simple joys creates positive, feel good recollections that see the past fondly, a universally sought-after and cherished human experience. When artists paint nostalgia, the world is in a small way a bit better than it was before.