I’m sure hundreds of people have discussed this subject, and at least half of them are more qualified in terms of their backgrounds to render an opinion than I am. I want to wade in with one comment though since, as you recall, I began the journey first into drawing and then to painting to try to improve my photographic work. I managed to capture one image, the previously posted ‘Mare and Foal,’ which satisfied my concept of a creative photograph. Lately, I put together this painting — watercolor — of the Bath House at Paris Mountain State Park, in the upstate area of South Carolina. While I think I could have done a better job of painting the lower right quadrant of the image, it is — to me at least — better than the photograph where that area is a blacktopped parking lot. I had relegated the photograph to the “back files” of images, but I am much more pleased, at least conceptually, with the painting. Whether photography or painting — the idea to me is to capture the mood of a place rather than the detail. I find it a little easier to use my photograph as reference and paint, perhaps because going out and twisting myself in unusual positions to frame the shot properly is more difficult now. Here is a small version of “Bath House, Paris Mountain” and the larger version is on my website here. The original image is watercolor, 14 x 10, on 140# paper.
“Winter Field” was named an administrator’s weekly choice for a group I belong to. The upload and comments can be read here. Frankly, I was quite flattered as I am not all that good at painting having pursued the hobby to learn more to enhance my photography. I must admit though that I do like the way I can organize the composition of a painting which is often difficult if not impossible to do in a photograph, especially landscapes which I enjoy. At the moment I’m trying to learn to use acrylics but am having a tough time understanding how to mix for the color I want. It always comes out too intense (oversaturated is the term I would use if it were a photograph). I feel like Thomas Edison, I keep learning procedures and processes that don’t work.
Lots of lessons lately, or maybe understanding is a better word. In creating this image I began to think about the difference between art and craft again. For me, and I realize all these concepts are personal rather than general, art is the conceptualization while craft is the skill with which the concept is implemented in the chosen medium.
Now thinking that brought me back to a couple of my original reasons for starting this blog — improving photography and discussing my work in videography. I have perhaps surprised myself in realizing that to create the “mood” or “reaction” I hope to achieve, I need to choose the medium (photo, video, watercolor, acrylics, and so on) with as much care as anything else.
For example is you check out my Payne’s Prairie Foal image I found it could only work as a photograph to convey the “mood” I was after. On the other hand, the photo I took of the Amelia Island Lighthouse, which is somewhat off the beaten path and not where a vista with water can be approached, seemed to cry out for watercolor.
I have been trying to zero in a bit on what drives my decision concerning whether I should publish an image as a photograph or as a painting. When I did this one I at least got one clue. The painting is very close to the actual photograph but by rendering it as a painting I was able to declutter some of the vegetation and to slightly enlarge the sabal palm which is the main subject. But indeed as I wrote in the description this image caught my eye as we were walking between two points when visiting the preserve. The full resolution image is here.
Well, I still haven’t returned to a whole lot of photography, but I did recently create a pretty decent video summarizing some of my talents’ work in teaching Rumba (they took a couple of years off to recuperate). During those years I dabbled off into painting. This is my latest watercolor — my impression of the visitors center at the [Carl] Sandburg Estate [the American poet] in Flat Rock North Carolina.
For the moment, I am continuing in the painting medium with perhaps a chance to return to photography later (my test shots recently have been very different and concentrate on light more than ever).
Just finished another mixed media, mostly watercolor. Pleased with the rendering of the background trees; pleased with the rendition of the really unkempt look of the boat; OK with the reflections in the water. Really upset with the booms and rigging and will not use black ink should I do another of these. This image was based on a photo I had taken during a visit to Amelia Island Florida.
I came across the most curious discussion. I searched for a watercolorist presentation and discussion group on one of the popular artistic media websites. What I stumbled into was an intense debate on the subject of “who *really* is an artist.”
It started with a discussion over whether a piece of work which was predominately watercolors but also included some ink lines was *really* watercolor art? That moved on to discussions concerning *how much* of the work was ink and how much watercolors (ah, the artist ink police!). Not stopping there, the discussion went one about whether one should use a pencil sketch as an underdrawing, and if one did were they *really* a watercolor painter.
That wasn’t the end. The next subject concerned why watercolorists represented only about 10% of the marketable art world. (Internecine fighting would be my answer) Another way to interpret that was “are watercolors really art?”
So here’s what comes to mind. Watercolors in basic sets are available to most kindergarten children, just as water-soluble finger paints are available. The argument seems to be that if the medium is available at the kindergarten level, anything produced with that medium is probably not *serious art.*
Oh balderdash (I cleaned that up). The result can be art regardless of how it is produced. I would tell my new colleagues to stop trying to be so full of themselves, or to paraphrase Laura Ingraham — shut up and paint, don’t worry about what you use.