Monday, October 11, 2010

Giving Up Those Nagging Artistic Addictions, or A Tale of Two Brains

In an effort to push my basic skills up a notch or two, it's time to start heaving aside the artistic crutches I've been relying on, and make my brain actually think about what to do when applying medium to substrate. 

The first crutch to be examined is "Elements of Working From Photographs".  Here's what I find myself clinging to that needs to be flung aside:
  1. Having to have a 'wow' photo to start with.  When working from photos, a good artist should be able to take the most mundane photo and turn it into something interesting to look at.  If a photo is that spectacular, just take it and frame it...don't bother to paint it.  Assignment: Find some simple, unassuming photos, and make something appealing out of them.
  2. Having to directly transfer the photo in order to duplicate it exactly.  If you're not painting a realistic portrait, then does exactness really matter?  Does a landscape painting fail because it's not an exact copy of said landscape?  Nope.  Get creative.  Add stuff.  Move stuff.  Make the painting better than the photo.  Time to work on those atrophied drawing skills!  Assignment: Transfer the photo subject to the substrate by freehand sketch.  And start carrying a sketchbook around, and get in the habit of sketching for fun.
  3. Letting the colors of the photo dictate the colors that are painted.  I spend far too much time trying to duplicate the colors of a photo.  Time to start making hue, value, temperature and intensity decisions on my own.  Orange trees?  Great!  Blue dogs?  Why not!  Assignment:  Work from black and white photos.
  4. Painting only from photos.  All of the above indicates I'm in a "Copy Rut', and it restricts putting any of my own twists and feeling into a piece.  Assignment:  Start painting from real life.  Or better yet, from pure imagination!
Even though some issues have been identified and solutions proposed, I'm finding myself in a somewhat suspended stasis, vaguely yearning for specific instruction and direction.  Whatever could be the reason?  Why, it's my snarky Left Brain demanding a step-by-step learning syllabus before embarking on anything different.

Aarruugghh!  Great, another crutch.  Left Brain is now insisting on wasting incredible amounts of time scouring the Interweb, researching and investigating, planning and assigning, ordering and cataloging, until it comes up with a suitable linear synopsis to follow exactly.  Phooey.  That's the reason there's a lack of feeling or spontaneity in my work.  Left Brain insisted on literal copies and exact colors, and things being just so, which basically is the antithesis of any creativity.

Time to let Right Brain have some free reign.


RH Carpenter said...

I think we all come to a point when we realize our addiction to the photograph and have to break away - sometimes it has to be a little at a time, and sometimes it has to be a great yawping stretch until the apron strings ZING out and away and we're free!!! Wishing you lots of freedom. All of these ideas seem worth doing to me and ones I'm trying, too.

Cynthia Schelzig said...

Great post!!!!! Thanks for remindinng me...such good points!!

Sandy Maudlin said...

What a great post. Thanks for sharing and for being so inspiring, too.

Linda Roth said...

Photography is an aid to painting. It's for reference only. The artist is attracted to a subject and takes the photo. If she should choose to paint it,use it as a place to jump off, the painting is her response to the subject--her feelings towards it. Photography is used again after the painting is completed. It's good for record keeping.

when the photograph is good by itself, then that's the art. Why bother painting it?

Wonderful post.

Good to see you back.

Jeanette Jobson said...

Its good to turn something on its head from time to time. Its then that you find new and interesting ways of doing things.

Jenna said...

Bingo! That's exactly the way I've been painting this week...CHAINED to my reference photo...this morning I went into my studio ,put away that pesky reference photo and just started painting colors that pleased me...Finally, the painting is starting to click. I love following your posts Lisa. They are so funny and so right on!

Lisa Walsh said...

Here's to zinging those apron strings, Rhonda!!! Let's go for it!

Cynnie, you don't have a thing to worry about. Your work is wonderfully creative.

Hi Sandy, and thank you. Maybe some day I'll have the courage to try your 'tape resist' method.

Thanks Linda, you're so right. I've got to learn to let myself lead the photo, not the other way around.

Jeanette, right now I'm all about trying to find new and different ways of doing things! The old way just ain't doing it anymore.

Doesn't it feel wonderful when your artist heart takes over, Jenna? What a freeing feeling. Thanks for reading, and for your kind words.