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.
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.
Sometime around 1965 I took an undergraduate course entitled “Introduction to Modern Art” (I know that surprises those who are familiar with my subsequent career in computer science). The paper I had to write as part of the studies was on Spanish artist Joan Miro. I got the clever idea to produce a really catchy title page by including a representation of one of the amoeba like shapes Miro included in some of his works. In making that representation I did not make a solid outline, but instead scrunched up the shape something like a kidney bean getting ready to spit out a watermelon seed. My instructor graded my paper as perfect, but nicked me a half a grade over the tiny, nearly microscopic, gap in the shape’s outline.
I have spent 52 years thinking I had been “wronged” – that the error was so minor as to not detract from the intent, cleverness, or content. As I experiment with various watercolor techniques to render my first true painting – the Spanish mission noted in my previous post – I decided to try color wash over an ink outline drawing. When I finished the drawing I could not help but notice the places where I got “sloppy” with the pen and did not complete the lines correctly. I decided I need to re draw the item, and that my old art instructor was right after all — in a drawing little details mean a lot.
This is my sketch of Ingrid Bergman as she appeared in Casablanca — a movie I have always found to be as much about style as about acting and writing. The gallery is posted at this link — here. I think this will be my last of the classic movie stars — unless something or someone particularly inspires me. I have branched out into landscapes drawn from imagination and enjoy doing those, but more importantly, I feel I am now ready to go back to black and white photography and see what I can produce. Meanwhile friends “we’ll always have Paris.” (grin)
I continue trying to progress in the ability to render sketches. Not really where I want to be yet, but making advances from time to time. The side benefit of trying to learn how to see and render various shades of gray with pencils, various blending tools, and shear luck at times is that I now can see a color scene in terms of its tonality whereas before I merely saw different colors. I’m close to making a side trip back into some B&W photography and see if any new skill has transferred over, but in the meantime, here is my latest.
I think Greta Garbo was one of the most photogenic movie stars in Hollywood. She was one of the golden era stars where, regardless of what they did ‘off camera’ so to speak, social custom and strong studio PR departments produced the essence of glamour. I intend to return to Garbo in different ages and poses as I find them because I think her face works so well in sketches. The gallery version is here.
I had the pleasure of meeting Clyde Butcher at the Mainsail Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida in the early 1990s I believe. Clyde was just beginning to get some exposure for his superb work in black and white capturing south Florida landscapes. Later I recall reading a comment by Clyde that when he first started as a photographer he realized his “art” work wasn’t selling, so he paired it up with a clock mechanism. I guess his theory was that a buyer did not necessarily want a fine art photo from an unknown photographer, but might be willing to buy a clock for the wall which just happened to have the photographer’s work in the background.
Now if you have read some of my posts, you realize I do not consider myself a practitioner of “fine” arts at all — perhaps I am more of a crafter, fashioning what I consider a pleasing image from both the camera work and the digital darkroom.
But I have stumbled on featuring the work I do on useful (more or less) decor objects: items like beach towels, tote bags, smartphone cases, and the like. I thought I might resent having to do that sort of thing, but it turns out I really enjoy it.
For example – I feature this image in square format for some objects and in 2:1 aspect for others. I think it makes an extremely attractive beach or poolside towel, and in square format a beach tote.