Thursday, October 15, 2009

About Photography

“ An impression needs to be constantly refreshed by new impressions in order that it may persist at all.” TS Eliot, The Perfect Critic

I have spent a lifetime working on my drafting skills, capturing mood and spirit through line, shadow and texture. I have developed my own hand with brush, chisel and pencil. Oils, alkyds, graphite, pigment and charcoal all play important roles in developing my technique. I can render the graceful bend of a sunflower as it lifts its head toward the light, and I can also reflect its waning days through the strength or weakness of the weight of a single line.

For years, I was embarrassed to admit to even using a photograph as reference, let alone actually incorporating it into my medium. I suppose because there is so much work out there that relies on photography and appears to be more like a weekend hobby than serious art.

But some of my greatest influences are photographers. I have immersed myself in the works of Imogen Cunningham, Harry Callahan and Alfred Stieglitz; and modern masters, such as Andy Goldsworthy and Sally Mann. Through these artists, I realize that it doesn’t matter what medium I use, as long as I am committed to the quality and expression of the craft.

When I draw a subject from life, I am adept at rendering what my eye sees. The camera allows me to see beyond that. When I take a photograph, it represents a snapshot in time. The way the light falls on a living thing occurs in a single moment. The machine picks up and emphasizes aspects of my subject that my eyes overlook. I am lucky to have such an objective companion. But the photograph is only the beginning of the journey.

Just as the old master painters created beautiful underpaintings of watercolor, ink or gouache to guide their painting, the photograph guides not only my hand, but my mind. The original impression is buried deep below the surface—sometimes not even visible in the end—changed and influenced by my hand to create an entirely new impression. This idea of constantly changing and evolving impressions is critical to the purpose and method of my painting.


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Great article complimented by a nice photograph!

Kristine Campbell said...

Jasper Johns once said that when he was young he was afraid of having anything in his work that looked or referenced anyone elses work but as he got older he didn't care he just did his work and didn't think about that anymore. I was reminded of this reading your entry. It is difficult for me not to be paralyzed by all the works I admire and even subconsciously referencing them in some way.
Difficult not to think of things like this while we work.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.