Artists have used endless tricks and tools to help them capture the image they were after, from lightboxes and lenses, grids and viewfinders, cameras, computers and more recently Photoshop. Many people use photographs as a convenient basis for their paintings. It obviously seems easier to sit and copy a static scene instead of battling the various problems of perspective, three dimensional space, colour, changing light and moving subjects.
A word of caution though; cameras only have one ‘eye’ and can madly distort images, especially when zoom lenses are used. We find it hard to believe that photographs can lie to us so badly, and we don’t even notice the crazy distortions on many photos of moving people. Yet people faithfully copy, even trace, photos of dancers or sportspeople and can’t work out why the figures look so odd.
It seems like a simple solution, but it can be a very deceptive one. The single lens of the camera squashes perspective onto one plane, especially if the figure is moving. This distorts and flattens everything, so that a closer object becomes smaller and a more distant one becomes bigger. As an example look at this photo..
Using a photo is different from letting a photo use you. A slavish copy of a flat image is exactly that; it takes human aliveness and consciousness to turn it into a work of art. Photographs can be useful aids but we have to be aware of their distortions or we will just copy them blindly. As artists, we have to infuse our work with all our skills of interpretation and insight to give it the kiss of life.
I do use photographs sometimes. I take photos when there isn't time to paint, and occasionally I capture something that looks like an interesting starting point. For example.....
“Machines can do many things better than people, but beauty created by a combination of hand, eye, personality and material is something we shall always need. In fact, there is a sense of presence which can only be created by an artist or craftsman” Martin Gayford
I am starting my classes again after the long hot summer!
On Friday 19th September mornings I will be returning to the lovely gardens of Villa Bologna to resume the outdoor classes there.
From 20th September the Saturday Morning Drawing Club will get underway again in my studio in Manikata.
For more details please click HERE and contact me if you need any more information at all.
I will also be teaching an exciting six week course for teenagers 12 - 14 beginning in October in Sliema. I'll be showing them how to draw from real people, helping them to sketch quickly and for the last class we'll be working at the rehearsals of a Flamenco performance.
Looking forward to seeing you soon!!
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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