November 8, 2007
While plein air painting has much to recommend it, the practical aspects often get in the way. With this painting, I suppose I could have stood in front of the fish counter and dutifully captured every glistening scale on these beauties, but I doubt that the fish monger would have approved. Thank goodness we live in the age of digital image capture. A twin-aged blade to be sure - the ability to grab subjects and compositions on the fly is truly remarkable. I have had a darkroom since I was 14 and have only just “e-bayed” my enlarger this very year – sniff, sniff. The thought of me doing “wet” photography for reference would be akin to cranking up the old eight track player. I still carry a small sketch pad with me, more for taking notes, but my little Canon Elph does most of the heavy work. Is it possible to utilize modern technology without falling into the trap of having it do the all the work for you? As old school artists, we are keenly aware of those guys at the outdoor art faire who pass off their shrink wrapped computer manipulated photos as paintings. Are they “art”? If based on their own photography (which is an art-form) they are, but putting them through the “watercolor” filter in Adobe Photoshop and printing them out on cold-pressed watercolor paper is deception. The answer came to me as my eyesight started to go. I set up a laptop near my easel to close in on detail for a portrait I was working on – I’d grown tired of wearing the opti-viewer, a device like a jewelers loupe. Everything in my studio is on wheels, rather like being on the set of “Starlight Express.” I pushed the laptop away from me a bit and “voila” I had the feeling of painting from life. Yes, it is two dimensional, but isn’t that what we do when we close one eye to get a better feel while sketching in a painting anyway? I am only one week into this “daily painting” thing and I wanted more than the “daily pear” or the “daily apple.” Now the world is my oyster! Pun intended.