Monday, January 28, 2008

No Cameras Were Harmed In the Making of This Piece

Rather than employing it as a supplement to active, conscious seeing, they used the medium as a substitute, paying less attention to the world than they had done previously, taking it on faith that photography automatically assured them possession of it.
Alain de Botton

I had spent three days last winter, making sure the same morning light passed through our deck door (the setup was on the floor), in order to paint them. This watercolor went to a group show with very strict size limits. Zillions of other pieces, not bigger than 90" in perimeter shared space with these pomegranates. However, at the show many assumed I had used a reference photo. Maybe I need to start placing a comment with the title and dimensions, "no cameras were harmed in the making of this piece."

There is a time and a place for reference pictures in everyone's oeuvre. In my case, I don't use them when the subject is accessible enough, stable enough, to withstand a couple of days of scrutiny. Too much is missed. Color in all its glory, and the "air around it," to use someone else's phrase.

On the other hand, give some of us a palette and a bit of time and the lure of all that detail and sensory overload will lead to seductive tangents. The inclusion of detail where none should have existed may become a detriment for the overall impression the painting makes. The choice is ours.

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