Ingenious Artifice

Rocks & Rust

Eugene Delacroix ‘Cold exactitude is not art; ingenious artifice, when it pleases or when it expresses, is art itself’.  Not for me neither, a photo-realism style, however much I admire the skill involved with this type of painstaking execution of minute detail.  I can’t help thinking, if the photograph works on its own, why is that not enough?  I would prefer to ‘play’ with a photo in Photoshop (and I always use ones I have taken myself) to explore other solutions.  However, I do take loads of photographs as a record of not only the important things in my life, but also the mundane and everyday: pics of the dogs running on the beach; family snaps; interesting landscapes; unusual light effects that changes familiar objects; my artwork etc., and we have never had it so easy with our digital cameras.  All the better if it surprises and delights.  And I do use photos a lot as reference material, as an ‘aide memoire’ for paintings, as taking time to make drawings on the spot is often not feasible.  I have boxes of landscape photos in my studio, now all new photos stored and filed aware neatly in ‘My Pictures’.  Ironically, it is the most uninspiring photos that often make the best source material.  If a subject interests me enough, I make several drawings of possible compositions from a collection of photos, as if the subject was actually in front of me.  Then my memory usually takes over, or the process itself dictates the next stage, and the artwork begins to breath with a whole new life of it’s own.