Yuri Can

Washington State University is one of the biggest attractions found in Pullman. The town of Pullman revolves and caters around the students therefore, making it a college town. It is unbelievable how such a small college town brings many people together from all over the world. The Cascade Mountains divide Washington into eastern Washington and western Washington. Many of the students attending Washington State University are from western Washington. Most of them also find it difficult to adjust to the different environmental conditions that Pullman has to offer. For example, on the west side of the Cascade Mountains the region is very humid causing it to be a humid green environment, while on the east side of the Cascade Mountains there is a very dry environment.

These two different environments set up the debate for what would be considered a picturesque setting. The concept of picturesque can be a difficult to understand. The definition in the dictionary is, “visually charming or quaint, as if resembling or suitable for a painting”. The problem with the definition is that “visually charming” is a very broad definition. Some might find that smooth lines and symmetry are visual attractive, while others might find that jagged edges, and darkness might be more interesting and appealing to the eye. This is where the definition of picturesque is known to be difficult to determine. William Gilpin tries to make to define a more specific definition for picturesque by stating, “…roughness forms the most essential point of difference between the beautiful, and the picturesque; as it seems to be that particular quality, which makes objects chiefly pleasing in painting”(6).  Roughness is an important element into making the picture picturesque, but variety and brokenness are also other elements that contribute to the roughness. Any art piece that only has straight lines would not be considered picturesque and therefore not beautiful in his eyes (8).

Pullman’s landscape is very symmetrical and smooth therefore, trying to find a picturesque picture was a difficult task to accomplish. Not only was the natural setting a challenge to face, but time also played a factor in getting the perfect picture. As the main focus of this essay is based on our pictures, I first had to manage to schedule an hour or so to go find a place in Pullman where I could find some picturesque qualities. I did not want to focus on the university because even though that is one of the main reasons Pullman is on the map, there are many other attractions in Pullman that need to be seen. I also chose to not focus on the “town” part of Pullman, and decided to go out and explore my other options. While I believe that the wheat fields are beautiful, they would not be considered visually attractive under Gilpin’s definition of picturesque. I came across an art piece surrounded by trees which seemed to be the only trees within miles. This art piece stuck out to me for many reasons. The placement of this art piece seemed very unique; the fact that it was located literally in the middle of nowhere makes no sense. It obviously will not get all the attention that it could get, if it were to be located on campus. However, the placement might actually work in the art pieces favor. Since the art piece is not seen every day, whenever people do notice it, it might leave a bigger impression than an art pieces on campus. Another reason why it struck out so much to me is the color of the art piece. The way the sun shines on the art piece makes it almost blinding to look at depending on

the time of day. Then the art piece itself is very captivating. It not like anything I have ever seen. It does not have a certain shape or meaning.


Fig. 1 The sun captures the viewer’s eye which

takes attention away from the art piece.

It is does not have many picturesque elements.





As it can be seen in figure 1 the sun is one of the main focuses. The art piece could be considered a focus, since it is one of the elements that contributes to the picturesque settings. I think the roughness of the grass puts fear in people’s eyes. No one would want to willingly lie on the dead scratchy grass.




Fig. 2 Front view of the art piece.

In figure 2 the dead grass contributes the roughness of the picture. This brings the element of the sublime. Sublime defined by Edmund Burke is, “whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger” (111). The fact of laying or sit in the dead grass could be painful but at the same time some people would do it in order to get a picture next to the art piece.



Figure 3, this picture is very picturesque. The cracks in the road, the never ending road, and the trees all contribute to the roughness of this picture.

In the figure 3 there are many obvious details that define this picture as picturesque. One of the main things that I noticed in this picture was the broken road. This detail falls right into Gilpin’s definition of picturesque. The dry grass, once again gives the illusion of roughness. The art piece is now the main focus of the picture, but the eye of the viewer gets distracted by the broken road and the trees in the background.


These pictures, in my own opinion are not beautiful but they have all the qualifications needed in order to be considered picturesque under Gilpin’s definition. I strongly disagree with Gilpin’s believes about not finding neatness and smoothness beautiful. Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so shouldn’t picturesque also be determined by the eye of the beholder. I would find a more calming art piece more beautiful. Figure 4 makes me feel at ease which makes me believe that the art piece is beautiful.


Figure 4, has no rough edges or dark elements to it. This picture is calming and soothing.






I might find the image above calming and soothing due to the fact that it reminds me of home. I have grown up in an agricultural setting; therefore looking at the figure 4 gives me a homey feeling. People that have grown up in the west side of the Cascade Mountains would not find the above image so soothing and instead complain about how boring it looks. Forests would definitely give more of a picturesque setting than my photographs. It was difficult to find trees in Pullman, because the whole town excluding the university looks like figure 4. To me, Pullman reminds me of home and has somehow has become my home away from home. I will always find Pullman’s environment picturesque and beautiful.












Work Cited


Burke, Edmund, William Willis, and Frank W. Raffety. “On the Sublime.” The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke. London: Oxford UP, 1907. 111. Print. Ser. 1


Gilpin, William. “Gilpin, On Picturesque Beauty (1794).” Gilpin, On Picturesque Beauty (1794). N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2012. http://www.ualberta.ca/~dmiall/Travel/gilpine2.htm.

Palouse, Palouse, Washington. Personal photograph by Latah County. 2009.

Prezi Work Cited

N.d. Photograph. Wbff-diva-bikini. 6 Sept. 2012. Web. 14 Sept. 2012. <http://wbff-diva-bikini.blogspot.com/2012/09/wsu-campus.html&gt;.


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