I've been thinking back to the Gallery Night we attended last Friday. As I mentioned before there were quite a number of portraits on display, several quite wonderfully achieved, and it struck me then what a compliment it was to be the subject of one. To think that someone has paid you, or an aspect of you, all that attention and tried to get something down on canvas (or whatever the medium is) that captures something of yourself.
But I suppose that this sense of attention being paid is something common to all art. Whether it's ordering sounds, colours, shapes, words the artist is paying attention to some facet of the Creation, and that attention is rewarded, in some sense, through the art-work that emerges.
I think this explains why a portrait, or any work of art, need not be beautiful in any conventional sense. The act of paying attention is in itself sufficient to supply a quality that is like beauty without necessarily being beautiful.