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For the sake of convenience, about 60% to 70% of my art is rendered from photographs. I take a picture, or I find a picture I like, and put my own artistic twist on it as I put brush to canvas or stylus to cell phone.

Something I'd read a while back (it might have been in a book by Charles Sovek) is that photographs ruin shadows...

In fact, as I am writing this, I looked it up on Google. It was Sovek. He said:

Photographs lie. The darks tend to be colorless, the lights oftentimes too bright, and hard edges predominate, freezing the life out of a subject.
Emphasis mine.

The detail and the variety of color are all lost in the shadows in a photograph. If you click on the link above, you'll see that in the original (top center) picture. The shadows are just big black blobs in the photo. And in fact, his pencil sketch to the left is simply more interesting than the photo itself.

Something I've noticed in my own paintings is that I tend to have real dark areas in some of them where nothing is happening. My sunflower painting is a classic example of that, and it had bothered me ever since I painted it. I took that picture in Alabama and came home and painted it from the photo I took. The lack of detail - no, the lack of life - in the darker/blacker areas has increasingly annoyed me about that painting.

I realize this now because it's been something I've chewed on but didn't really get when I first read it, and on this Christmas trip to Georgia, the Poolside painting was painted from a photo in Tamara's parents' back yard, which has a pool. The photo lost too many details in the shadow, I can see now, and this will inform my choices in painting and art going forward. And I think I have some other thoughts around this that I will share later once they're more concrete.


by Brett Rogers, 12/26/2008 11:03:41 AM


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