Friday, May 5, 2017

Still Life




This painting came from this drawing: 


Painting from a drawing offers freedom and complexity at the same time. Painting from a photograph offers  more detail, but a photo doesn't teach anyone when to say 'no', quite the opposite---it seems to say "Paint all of me", whereas a drawing has almost nothing in it, relatively speaking---a few lines.   As the photo shows you a realized image just asking to be replicated, the drawing mutely asks you, "Why am I here?" 


I wonder if photographs tend to reinforce 'subject' throughout the process, whereas drawings introduce and reinforce  'idea'. Anyway,  it takes a strict person who can work with photographs and keep them as a tool, not rely on them as THE mainstay of their process. Creating a drawing to paint from is something everyone should try and practice. Like skiing or rowing, it exercises muscles you didn't know you had. The dearth of detail keeps taking you back to the original idea. 

Since photographs are easier to come up with than a drawing, their use is ubiquitous, but the drawback is that the unfeeling eye of the camera captures everything with equanimity, the interesting parts and dull parts alike, and this very often slips the artist into straight replication.  This is where a drawing----like a shopping cart with a stubborn wheel---veers  to the other side of creativity, willy nilly, and takes you with it. Unless your drawing is photographic in its detail, your emotional eye and hand will have drawn things with an imbalance, capturing those details and gesture which mean something to you and  ignoring---or disguising---those parts that leave you cold. This off-beat focus is going be unpredictable with everyone because it is the eye of the individual that gets to have the final word in a drawing. 

Painting from a photograph does offer you the opportunity to invent parts of your painting and insert your personal self into the final product, the same as a drawing does---but it's just so very easy NOT to, that it is a simple matter to forget that part and copy the photograph.  The photo has so much, that you often feel you must put it all in there--- or at least 1/2.   Painting from your drawing, on the other hand,  means you are being sparked from the very beginning by something that remains nearly ephemeral ; The dearth of detail becomes a blessing in disguise as you are forced to invent certain parts, so without really intending it your own free will is the deciding factor throughout the process----your own free will has become, in fact, the 'subject' of the finished work. You have become an interpreter, not a human camera. You are putting imagery through the filter of yourself. 


 
In essence, while I don't see anything wrong with working from photographs  it is something to lament when the same artists who paint from photos see no sense in painting from their own drawings. That is all I'm saying here. I know how much it's helped me. On the other hand, the process has it's ups and downs and it can be scary. It's quite humbling.  And exciting. When you do it, you do feel that you are a chef with all your burners on and you have a fervent hope things turn out ok----you have to be a Pollyanna and talk yourself through it with a high hope, because without confidence it's a hard way to work. You have to believe it will all be just fine. Of course it isn't, it hardly ever ends up very well, but that's ok. It's about the process.  

  Regarding the painting above, some changes from the drawing were made, and I'm about to do it again with the addition of a bowl of figs. 

I'll post the painting when it's done. 


 The weather today was cool and gray, then sunny in the afternoon. Now as the sun is going down it has gotten incredibly warm, it's strange how that happens just because of the angle of the sun. All day it was pleasant, then at late afternoon it gets so hot. 

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