Copying or nature?

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Copying or nature?

From Greg Scheckler

Published before 2005


Hi Everyone.

Brad Silverstein wrote:
To make things even trickier, eyes before nature are hardly objective.

I disagree. One reason why representational painting is so powerful is that for the most part most people see the same stuff. Using and sharing our eyes or vision is one of the fundamental differences among 19th Century and earlier academy painting versus Modernist and Postmodernist concept-laden approaches to art. There are of course variations in what people see such as color blindness, but even then, almost everyone sees the same light-dark relationships. In terms of evolution of the eye, the "Where System" aspect of human vision, which is entirely colorblind, long predates color-sensing. It is therefore very sensible (pun alert! doh!) that so much emphasis is usually placed on quality drawing.

For students, having either something in front of them to work with, such as the still life, or master copy, etc., provides a set of imagery that both the student and teacher can see. The teacher and student can then compare & contrast what they see with the art they produce. This process removes the subjective inanity of Modernist formalism, postmodern deconstructivism, etc.; by providing both teacher and student the same visual common ground.

That much said, the range of light and space that one can sense in nature is far wider than what one can reproduce using charcoal or painting pigments. Nature teaches students the selective process of editing what you see as related to art media, whereas copying teaches students the additive process of doing far more and more subtly as related to art media.

Two sides of the same issue. In some ways I find that working from life and working from copies are part and parcel of the same thing, just as you need to read a lot of good books in order to write well.

And here...

Brad Silverstein wrote:
In some ways verisimilitude was never as highly charged an issue as it has been since the invention of photography, as there was never an easy opportunity to do a side by side "reality" comparison via snapshot. And the goal (sometimes unconsciously) of photographic verisimilitude has painting at the expense of aesthetics and form.

This is absolutely true in my experience also. I do find among my own students (many of whom have not drawn since they were ten or eleven years old) that if I don't teach them that they actually can draw representationally, that they are not at all comfortable with visual art. Usually they also have to get through that stage before they understand how drawings and b/w photos are different.

Greg