Photographs and the Artist

The digital camera is both a godsend and a curse to the modern artist.

Mary Kemp
Sacrawell Farm
See a paintable scene and snap it! Once, twice, a dozen times, each shot just that tiny bit different.
Life is fast. People to see, places to go. No time to stand and stare, let alone stop and do draw like a proper artist.

It's not the same working from photos is it? Something is lost. Everything takes on  an homogonised feel. Insignificant objects, a rougue plastic bag, a street sign, have the same significance as the thing you really want to concentrate on.

When you draw or paint from life you select the important elements and everything is seen in relation to those.

Mary Kemp
Orton Mere
Drawing, as opposed to taking a photo lodges the view in your brain and immediately gives you a better understanding of what you see.

Now I'm not an advocate of painting en plein air. I know it's what the hard core artists do but all that wrestling with the elements long term is not for me. Rather I like to sketch in short bursts outside, gathering up information in a sketch book and sparingly snatch a few photos àlong the way. If you take too many photos you spend all your time trawling through them to find the one you want, and then discover it actually wasn't what you thought it was anyway.
I will confess to having taken too many photos in the past and I never like to delete them. You don't know when you'll regret it! But how many are on my computer???

But I've got over my photo addiction now.

The best photos are in your head, and the best paintings are all the better for a bit of direct observation.


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