Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reliance on Photographs...

Julie   conte crayon on paper   17.5 x 10
Photographs are the life preservers of painting and drawing.....they don't really teach you to swim, but they keep you buoyant.  It is very difficult for some folks to give them up as part of the work (?) is already done - the subject has been flattened into 2 dimensions.....the artist's job then is to pump 3-dimensional reality back into the work.  Photos are portable.  Photos save time. Photos freeze the subject in time. Photos are like reading Cliff Notes to try to understand a great American novel.  In a pinch, I have used both. Photos lie. So do Cliff Notes.  Everything is on the same plane.  Darks and lights are polarized.   Working from reality teaches the true nature of things, the to's and the fro's.  Models get tired, flowers wilt, and the sun changes.  But I believe that an artist can learn way way more and achieve more freshness and energy by working from life.  "Julie" is a portrait started from life at my drawing workshop in Warren where most of the attendees are portrait artists.  I will say that I could probably have worked another hour on it, but, being a workshop, we needed to move on.  The natives were growing restless.  I remember, though, that it felt good, I felt as if I had a handle on the subject.  It felt simple and right.  I snapped a photo so that I could finish the work at home.  A week later, I relied on my photograph to finish the portrait.  I was let down.....I felt that there was so much I had missed....how could I have been so wrong?  All those details.  Too many details.  The photo caused me to doubt my observations.  Although I finished the work to my satisfaction, I have to wonder what the work would have looked like had I been able to finish it on the spot....

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