Mission Statement

This is a blog in which I intend to reach my goal to draw/paint a thousand faces! Welcome, and come along for the journey!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Truth, Distortion, Improvisations, and Colliding Shopping Carts

I'll start with the story of colliding shopping carts. I was in my local grocery store pushing a cart in front of me past the magazine section, when I got to the book rack. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a magazine apart from all the others at the top of the book rack... a magazine with a gorgeous face on the cover. So of course my neck snapped around, and I did a double take to look closer at what was Cigar Aficianado Magazine with Matthew McConaughey on the front. Of course my jaw dropped slightly as a reaction to Matthew's disarming smile. Of course, I wasn't paying attention to anything else but that amazing face...and SLAM! My cart went right into some poor old guy's cart (laughing). And sheesh, people say that it doesn't hurt to "just look". It's a good thing I wasn't behind the wheel of a car.
Face #254, Matthew McConaughey
So now that I've bared my soul with the story of the grocery store incident, I can get on to the more serious. Things that anyone in a visual arts field ought to know about. I will start by making an analogy. Does everyone remember the game where children sit in a circle, and one starts with a story, whispers it to the next person, and so on until it gets back to the beginning of the circle... except the story has changed by that point? We equate such distortions and perceptions that are made, with verbal matters. But the same holds true with visual matters. But allow me to elaborate:
A photographer takes a photograph of a person, taking into account his/her preference of lighting, angles, etc. Click, the picture is taken and the once 3 dimensional person is now flattened into a photographic likeness with a photographer's biases. The image is photographed at a high resolution camera setting, and printed thusly. But then, it is scanned and uploaded onto the web where the basic resolution needed is at much lower 72. Then it appears on different monitors all over the world, some monitors calibrated for colors better than others. Then let's say an artist such as myself downloads it, and prints a copy (a copy that is now distorted). And I draw it...with my own biases but otherwise exactly as it appears from the picture I printed out. I then photograph my painting (with my crappy camera and its settings, in poor light), and upload it onto my blog, and it gets to your monitor. But will it still bear a likeness to that person? Not exactly...I can tell you that Matthew McConaughey does not have black hair or skin the color of a merlot. The moral of the story is that it helps to know your subject and not rely on merely a photograph. Particularly a picture you didn't take yourself. Because you will be dealing with any number of distortions along the way. Sometimes you may have to improvise to get the likeness you are after, to extract the truth from a distorted image, to get a good likeness. My portrait of my sister last post is probably a better likeness of her than the crappy photo I worked from. Recently I was reading the remarks from a judge at an art show that had commented that too many entries artists had relied on photographs and the resulting art work was "stiff".
Do you realize where your own face is concerned, all you ever get to see is a likeness? You will never get to see your own face, but only a reflection or a flattened photograph or painting. Something to think about! But they say "The best mirror is an old friend", anyway!
Enjoy the weekend!