I was reading Darren’s blog (www.99daz.com) and it raised for me questions about whether I value the ability to paint or draw from one’s imagination more than from reference photos. Is there still part of me that thinks I can’t draw and somehow the use of reference photos is cheating? I know that this is not the case. Great masters drew having subjects sit for them – certainly not out of their head. Portrait painters today frequently use reference photographs. After all, how long can one person sit still?
Perhaps I would like to be able to draw from my imagination as it would enable me to draw what is non-existent in this world – such as dragons!
I know that I am perfectly comfortable that I am unable – or unwilling – to produce highly realistic portraits. I admire the skill involved in photo-realism, but frankly unless it is an extremely interesting subject to start with, I often find it boring and lifeless. This may seem strange because the pictures are in fact extremely life-like… but they somehow (mostly) lack feeling / emotion for me.
I also avoid realism because the pursuit of it feeds my perfectionism. I cannot obsess over details when someone has blue skin. I cannot be tentative with a crayon which I know can never produce the level of detail that is required to generate a realistic portrait. Art is a rich, delightful experience for someone like me because for once, it cannot be wrong or right. Perfect or imperfect. It isn’t like sports where you win or lose; or exercise where your fitness or strength can be measured, or gardening where you get a plant to flower or not; (or in the case of my rosemary plant stay alive or not). Art is a wonderful thing where rules can be dodged. I didn’t embark on art thinking that it would be a good counter to my perfectionism… but what a glorious discovery that is.
PS: For anyone reading my previous post,… it is slightly ambiguous and I thought I should point out that both my parents are perfectly fine. I was writing it after talking to someone who is needing to make some difficult decisions regarding the care of his father.