When I meet a man for the first time I tend to focus on what’s wrong with him. Call it sabotaging or relationship anxiety or simply that  even though I do want a man in my life I sometimes fear that he might take up too  much of my time and I will have to forgo my dreams. In fact, this is so much part of my inner making that The Dating Club, the novel I am writing, circles around the theme of a woman having to choose between her career or the man she loves.

So, I tell myself -and in this I do not think my mind is in either panic nor disillusioned mode – I believe that a man in my life ought to make it better and not worse. Naturally, as self-preservation, I look immediately for the worse. Why waste time?

Instead of seeing a good heart, an exciting mind and a man pursuing his own remarkable dreams, I see the physical faults which are enough to stop me from going beyond the surface.

I don’t think that I am alone in this and men probably suffer more from this syndrome than women do.

For these reasons, I think that going to see art is a good first date and an antidote to this OMG I hope it’s not him.

Not long ago, I told a friend about how I thought artists have a difficult time making a living because art, unlike food, for example, is not a necessity.

“Art is a necessity,” he said.

Hmm.  That made me reflect and wonder in which way art was as necessary as our daily bread.

The website http://painterskeys.com/  contains a huge resource of art quotations. I was most interested in seeking those regarding the purpose of art and found as example:

Art has no other purpose than to brush aside the conventional and accepted generalities, in short everything that veils reality from us, in order to bring us face to face with reality itself. (Henri Bergson).

Now that’s an interesting first date discussion bound to get you beyond the superficiality of the size of the man’s ears standing before you and dig into his own reality.

One of my favorite contemporary artists is Louise Carrier Nichols.

art circuit3                                                   art circuit2                                                                                                      art circuit

Her art, reminds me of what Edgar Degas had to say about art: Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

Her art makes me see beauty. Looking at something beautiful can help us see the beauty in the person we are with.

Bob Dylan had this to say about art: The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for any one but inspire them?

Why not look for the beauty in the person? And inspire him or her to see that beauty in themselves?

art circuit4

I once read something by a writer who, I now unfortunately forget his name, said that their life was their art. He didn’t mean it like I couldn’t live without being able to paint or sculpt. But rather that his day-to-day life was his art. The painter Barbara  Cook Spencer reiterated this in more detailed terms:

Art is what each of us is, deep inside – our own beauty. And while we remain related to our fellow-man by those infinite qualities we all share, our art is what makes us different. Art is expressed in the way we cook, arrange flowers, place furniture, raise our children, chair a meeting, close a business deal, or gather our friends. It’s having our own voice. We challenge drabness and boredom by resisting the pressure of comparison and preserving our own individual beauty.

I think relationships can also be works of art. Why not?  What do you think?




  1. I believe going to an art exhibit would make a lovely first date. Whether or not your date sees why a painting entrances you says something about him. Even if it’s not his preferred style, to detest everything you love does not auger well for a relationship.

    My understanding is that the beauty we see in our external reality is but a reflection of the beauty we hold inside (on a deeper level). So appreciating the beauty of artwork or plants or anything helps us to begin to appreciate the radiance of our own soul trying to shine through our human form.

    I agree with your Bob Dylan quote “the highest purpose of art is to inspire.” And Barbara Cook Spencer described so well how we express our uniqueness in everything we do. The care that we take with our surroundings and interactions with others is art in action!

    As for relationships being works of art, sometimes this is true. Though I have to admit that these genuine “works of art” are rare (and therefore extremely valuable) at least for me.


  2. Yes, relationships as work of art are indeed rare. How does one get to that place? First, I think one needs to love and respect oneself and then that love and respect can be transpired to our partner. The problem is that there is so much selfishness and superficiality within relationships. What can I get out of it instead of what can I give to it. The key is to be genuine. We are always so often trying to impress with either our looks, our possessions even our knowledge. To be an artist in one’s relationship is to practice humility. To be open to imperfections in our partners, ourselves and our relationships.

    There is a saying: you are what you eat. But also I think you are what you think and feel about yourself.

    Thanks for your comment and enjoy yourself in one of the greatest art capitals of the world.


  3. Carol – This is maybe my favorite of the First Date posts, but I seem to like them all! A relationship as a work of art … That topic could inspire lots of thoughts, both pro and con, and I concur with Thelma that the relationship-as-work-of-art is all too rare.
    But in one sense we creative types have the advantage of control – well, usually – over the final destination and result in our relationship, if you will, with our artistic creations, something we can’t always say about a relationship with another person … 🙂
    And I agree that, for better or worse, men are more likely to suffer from the looking-for-initial-faults syndrome than women do. BTW I did have a happy experience going to an art exhibit on a first (actually second!) date, but the principle still applies.


    • Bryan-

      Thank you for your inspiring comments. I really like the idea of a relationship as a work of art, with two artists creating it. But not everybody sees it this way. Because of the availability of online dating, relationships seem to have become more disposable than ever.


  4. Oooo, thank you for this lovely post, Carol. I am a big believer in the importance of beauty, and I love your idea of cultivating a sense of beauty on a first date. So refreshing! And that quote of Barbara Cook Spencer is brilliant and spot on: expressing our inimitable voices throughout our lives is indeed art–and a challenge and privilege. Shine on….


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