Viewers Respond to Jennifer Lee’s “Intermission”

“Intermission” by Jennifer Lee.

I was first drawn to Jennifer Lee’s painting of the blue female figure one afternoon in the office, I studied the piece and conjured up my own ideas of what was taking place, who this woman was. The painting provoked personal memories, feelings and I wanted to know what other viewers thought, what a single painting could say to a number of viewers.

I meant to include participants’ headshots, their ages and occupations – but many asked me not to even feature their full names.

“Can I put an alias?” one participant asked.


“I don’t want to be judged.”

I compromised at initials, and asked four simple questions about this painting to a barista, a poet, a teacher, a receptionist, a server, a town clerk, a librarian.

“I really hope this painting wasn’t supposed to promote happy feelings or thoughts…because I will have failed miserably at interpreting this painting if so,” said another participant after she answered the questions.

“There is no wrong answer,” I assured her. “Every response is valid.” Lee agrees.

“I don’t have a real specific response I’m looking for, I like to hear what others feel,” says the artist, who doesn’t “plan or sketch out” her artwork beforehand. “I like to paint and see what happens.”

These are the responses I compiled:

• At first glace, what is your response to this painting?

MP: “Alone and wondering.”

SN: “My empathetic response is at first dominated by loneliness, but later by a sense of forward motion.”

MF: “Solitude…sadness…cut off.”

SS: “Words that come to mind are: lonely, solitary, and disbelief.”

JM: “The color caught my eye – particularly the red in the corner and the pink smudge in the center.”

MH: “Lonely…heartbreak…waiting.”

DS: “Abstract, lovely tardis blue.”

• Look closely, what do you think is happening in this painting?

MP: “A woman is alone, thinking on life.”

SN: “An individual reflects on the past before moving on.”

NR: “She is a sad girl alone.”

MF: “Bereavement and grief. The red on right [represents] pending unknowns that will affect her.”

SS: “She is turning away in wonder at what just occurred, unsure of how to feel or what to think. She’s disconnecting herself from the present moment and losing herself in her thoughts.”

JM: “She is an actress on a stage – quite proud of her performance – soaking it all in, but already thinking of tomorrow and the fear it may not go as well.”

MH: “She is waiting to dance, physically or spiritually.”

DS: “Seems to be a rather emotional scenario. I think she could either be walking towards or away from something that has caused her turmoil.”

• What is this woman’s story?

MP: “The woman is at an elegant party, but is by herself outside. She is thinking on whether to go back inside.”

SN: “Something traumatic has happened to her, and she is struggling to decide whether she will allow it to impact her future.”

NR: “She is waiting – as we all are – for a better world where there is peace and no misery.”

MF: “She lost someone who meant something to her.”

SS: “Her life was pretty predictable until now…and it suddenly came crashing to an unexpected halt. Everything she come to know as true has changed; she’s experiencing feelings she’s never before experienced.”

JM: “She is young – in a college production. She was surprised to land the lead in the play and was quite nervous about her performance. Now she’s feeling great about how well she did – yet still apprehensive about her next performance – will it go as well?”

MH: “She is desperately trying to be as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.”

DS: “Conflict. To me, it looks as though she could be looking at either side of her, giving the impression that perhaps the artist’s intentions were to show some sort of inner-conflict that the woman is having while trying to rectify something. Perhaps the color blue is indicative of sadness.”

• Can you relate?

MP: “Yes.”

SN: “Yes.”

NR: “I am waiting too.”

MF: “Yep! All too well.”

SS: “Yes, when my father suddenly passed away when I was a kid, my world as I knew it was over and the sense of loneliness was overwhelming – she reminds me of how I felt back then.”

JM: “Yes – life is a performance and no matter how high it takes you there will inevitably be something that brings you back to reality. Hopefully our highs outnumber our lows.”

MH: “What woman couldn’t?”

DS: “We all have inner-conflict – some of us are just better at hiding it.”

Now, I’m not a psychology major, but I feel confident to suggest that we each bring our personal experiences, feelings, and emotions to a piece of artwork. Art has a powerful ability to stir our memories, fantasies, and dreams.

What did this painting say to you?

To view more of Jennifer Lee’s artwork, stop by Brew Coffee, open daily, located at 12002 Highway 42 in Ellison Bay or visit