Premier Dental - January 2020




Using Lessons Painting Every Day at Premier Dental PICTURE PERFECT

Some students were given a musical instrument to master, but I was given a paintbrush. Growing up, I dabbled in painting, often using oils and acrylics. Several professors even asked me to major in art throughout college, but my sights were set on a different career. Regardless of where my career took me, I have continued to enjoy painting. Traditionally, I’ve painted landscapes and portraits. I believe art is challenging and powerful. Everything, from simple landscapes to intense political pieces, has the capability to evoke unique emotions out of each person who sees it. Some art asks you to sit back and enjoy its scene, while other pieces invite the viewer to thoughtfully engage with it. The commonality in all art pieces is the composition and how artists play with color, light, and darkness. I used to challenge myself to recreate a work that someone else had done, giving the piece my personal touch. As you do this, you begin to master the varieties and complexities of colors. Every day, I get to do something similar for patients in my chair. Often people are surprised by how similar dentistry is to art because most of the work we do seems surgical or technical. Yet, like paintings, each person and their teeth are unique. Teeth vary in shape, length, opaqueness, and translucency. They come in subtle shades of white, yellow, gray and even blue. Some teeth have a dull sheen; others shine like a diamond. Masculine teeth are boxier, while feminine teeth are curvier. When I restore teeth, I need to make sure that the color and shape of the teeth matches what already exists. Sometimes closing in spaces requires imagining tooth structure that doesn’t exist and how the new addition will change how the face looks. With full-mouth restorations, I’m often enhancing the patient’s existing smiles to create whiter, shapelier, and more aligned smiles.

All of these modifications change how a patient looks, and therefore, I have to make sure any changes I make suit the patient’s face and matches existing teeth. And finally, teeth still have to function, so while I can change a shape, I have to ensure it doesn’t interfere with a patient’s ability to chew or talk. (Of course, this is more like the work sculptors do!) Just like in my career, I’ve worked hard to practice painting and continue with the hobby I’ve loved since I was a young student. But as my own life got busier, I’ve had less time to actually pursue this hobby. This has not prevented me from appreciating the works of others. One of my favorite artists is Johannes Vermeer, whose work I had a chance to see this last summer in the Netherlands. I especially like his “Girl with a Pearl Earring,”“The Milkmaid,” and “Woman with a Water Jug.” I find his art has a deceptive simplicity. He often uses light, lines, and angles to create pieces that are just stunning. When I look at these paintings, I am drawn to the beauty of the subject and composition and admire the paintings’ peacefulness. I also love Impressionist artists like Claude Monet, whose works include “Water Lilies,”“Gardens at Giverny,” and “Haystacks,” and Auguste Renoir, famous for his paintings “Luncheon of the Boating Party,”“Two Sisters”, and “Dance in the City.”Their compositions are very different from Vermeer’s, often bursting with color and activity. Vincent Van Gogh is in a category all his own. His full color, movement, and powerful brush strokes make him one of the most experimental artists of all time. In the modern era, I like artists Pablo Picasso, Salvatore Dali, and Georgia O’Keefe. Of course, I could be content observing and working on many kinds of paintings. It’s a timeless art form, and I’m grateful to get to work with it in some capacity every day — even if I never did become a professional artist. —Hema Gopal, DMD


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