The Definitions of Detail

I often like to describe myself as a detail-oriented person, which means having a keen eye and paying attention to minor details that may be easily overlooked (but I admit, no one’s perfect and I make mistakes too!). As an architectural designer, this is an essential and required skill, but sometimes I like to interpret this definition of details from different perspectives.


I was only a high school student when I first became interested in my dad’s Nikon film camera and thus photography, which taught me the level of attention to details. Many years passed, I still admire artworks of great details, whether they are photographs, architectural technical drawing, rendering, or hand-drawing and painting.


1) Impressionist painting

A Corner of the Garden at Montgeron by Claude Monet / Image Source


Claude Monet is hands-down my all-time favourite Impressionism artist. Some may overlook the beauty of Impressionist artworks because, frankly, they are just a bunch of small brushstrokes. They, however, more than any other types of paintings, capture the moment in time with accurate depiction of changing colours and light qualities, delivering different messages, moods or ambience even when painted the same object. Instead of achieving other artistic standards like composition, this level of detail displays a such vibrant image that artist sees.


2) Graphics

manabu-final-detailRebirth by Manabu Ikeda / Image Source

Achieving a high level of details is perhaps a test for one’s patience and persistence. Let’s admit, we can barely stay in one seat for many hours in studio or office that we sometimes need to take a break or get distracted. What’s more, we say words like ‘I just wanna get over with’. Then, how about spending three and half years on just one drawing? Manabu Ikeda doesn’t think it’s an issue. His recently completed artwork ‘Rebirth’ exhibits an extreme attention of small details. Dedicated to deliver the right message and stories about tsunami incident in Japan, he expresses his vision through mixed media including pen, ink and acrylic paint.


3) Hand-drawing

p110Nude by Pablo Picasso

Everyone probably tried still life drawing at least once in their first art class, whether the object was a ceramic jar and cubes or simply portraits. Some people go beyond and produce hyper-realistic hand-drawings, which I admire a lot. However, the simplest and yet most precise and flawless drawing I’ve ever seen was the drawing by Pablo Picasso, portraying a woman only with four lines. This reminds me a level of detail that can be achieved by an artist depends tremendously on his/her perception — what and how one wants to depict.


6012ce0315bfba1e3751faed51e40d11Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent van Gogh

Do you agree with my understanding of ‘detail’? Not a single standard can truly define and determine what ‘detail’ means and can do. If you are interested to see some Impressionist paintings in Toronto yourself and ponder about the definition of detail, you can see Monet’s works at Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on the current exhibition “Mystical Landscapes”, with other artworks by Van Gogh and Georgia O’keeffe.

4 thoughts

  1. June, I myself used to think I was a “detailed” person until I see these images….so happy to have these beautiful and detailed images on this site! thank you.


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