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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.


Friday, December 12, 2008
  new painting and thoughts on photography
This is Old Wall: Barcelona (16"x12", oil on panel.)

I never start a painting from a photo, and rarely even look at one while I work. But often, as I start to hone in on finishing something, what I have going with the paint will trigger an image or memory of something that I've photographed in the past. In this case, it was an old wall in Barcelona that had been plastered over many times. Graffiti and other marks had been made over time, traces of which appeared and disappeared on the crumbling surface. I took several photos of it on my trip there in 2001, finding it very beautiful and mysterious.

The eroded looking top layer of this painting evoked that memory for me, and led me to darken the bottom half and scratch into the paint, adding the linear aspect of the wall that I remembered. Though the colors and actual markings are very different in the painting, in this case I was working from a pretty direct source (which is not always the case for me.) But of course, it's abstraction, so I was after the idea of the old wall more than anything specific--the idea of a surface with a history, and rich texture created over time.

But the point is, I didn't go looking for the photos of the wall as a reference...instead, my visual impression or mind's eye memory allowed the most latitude in which to play with the idea, to get at its essence. I have found this to be true over and over--even when I was a more realistic landscape painter. For me, photos as direct references tend to get in the way. Sometimes a quick glance as a point of departure, but that's it. The photos of things I like and notice have their own importance to me--quite separate from paintings that arise from memories or visual impressions of those things.

I'm considering all of this in light of a plan I have to put together a small book about my experience at the art center in Spain, which will include both photos and paintings. I love photography, and although there is certainly overlap between what I notice and photograph and what finds its way into my work, I tend to take pictures mostly for their own sake these days, and I'm really enjoying that.
 
Comments:
Beautiful painting. I love your work!

If I work with photos at all, I work in a very similar fashion - letting the impression of the image in my memory inform my painting much more than any photographed image I might have taken.
 
Rebecca, this painting is stunning! It would be really interesting to see the photograph you used as the inspiration for this painting.
 
Thanks Diane and Angela...and Diane, I will post the photo...
 
I've just discovered your work and blog and am excited to start to follow your blog.

As both a fine art photographer (initially) and (more recently) a painter, I've given much thought to the ways in which the two are related.

I learned early on to think differently about a photograph that might be a reference for a painting versus a photograph that would stand on it's own as a fine art piece. I found it best to use "bad" photographs as reference as I would not be tempted to give them more than the cursory glance you mention!
 
Greetings Bob and I'm glad you found my blog. I just looked at yours and I will enjoy following it!
 
Spectacular painting. The textured surface, scratches, and color palette are perfect!!
 
Hi Seth, I really appreciate your comments--have visited your very interesting blog now and have it bookmarked!
 
Rebecca
Here I am late in January just getting around to quoting your December post in in my blog. Your attitude about photographs is perfect. Thanks.
Annette
 
Thanks very much, Annette, it is nice to be quoted...
 
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