Inspiring Imagery Fuels the Image Bank in my Mind
An update of an earlier post on how I collect the images I need to create my work:
These fragments I have shored against my ruin: a sample of my reference material
“The model is not to be copied, but to be realized.”
In painting, there really are no rules. But understanding painting as I do, there is a prevalent practice these days which I find completely undermines the integrity of the act.
Projector artists. Artists who cheat themselves and their audience by projecting an image onto their canvas and doing a paint-by-numbers routine to create their works. Artists like this have reduced themselves to a mere cog in a mechanical reproduction process, not creating, but taking dictation from their gadgets. They let their tools make their discoveries for them. It is an inferior mode of creation.
If you’re an artist, do your own rendering.
Now I am not rejecting the use of source material. I learned the hard way, through years of artistic practice, I lack the omnipotent powers of observation and recall to paint strictly out of my own mind and produce the results I want.
How do a frog’s legs attach to its body? How many wings does a mosquito have? What is the musculature of a horse? These are just some of the composition problems I have encountered. I can’t see clearly enough into my memory to reach the level of realism I want in my paintings.
So I use source material. Not all the time, but when it’s important to get something right, and I can’t summon the depth of detail I’d like to. When needed, I find photographs on the internet of what I want to portray, print them out, and study them.
But then-and this is the really important part-I put the photograph down, and paint what I remember about it, what I learned about it.
The image passes through the filters of my consciousness and becomes more me. And that is vital in art: depicting your own unique sensibility…
I’ve been busy since I wrote that post, I’ve made many paintings, and envisioned many more.
This morning I added a picture to my digital image morgue folder for a new painting I’m contemplating. I haven’t printed it out yet because the painting is not yet begun:
Ancient Olive Tree
I started browsing through the folder. Some of images have been used in paintings, possibly in ways you’d never recognize. Others were more particular and identifiable. I wanted to share this window into the workings of my creative procedures. These are some of the pictures which have caught my attention, out of the endless resources of the internet.
As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, art isn’t about just reproducing appearances.
Making a painting becomes more than just a matter of how to represent something. It symbolizes the artist’s engagement with life. We want so much to make an image that says, “This is who I am, and this is what I saw.”
When we do it right, everyone who sees it will find that image inside themselves as well. It becomes a moment we share, and which can be visited over and over, with new understandings always unfolding. This is the power of art.
Ultimately a painter doesn’t replicate the real world, but creates a world in the painting that exists nowhere else. There are no limits for a painter; every decision in the work can be freely made to best suit the desired result.
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