Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's In There Somewhere

Dedicated readers of Maine-ly Painting (which before the collapse of the Soviet Union once numbered in the millions, but now is down to about two and a half) will note that my posts are somewhat few and far between.  Now, there are two ways to address that.  One is to complain about how busy I am, and how all my painting shows and travel is keeping me from posting blah, blah, blah.  The other way is to not address it at all, as in "I've been here.  Where YOU been?"

I can't do the latter, and the truth is, no, I have not been busy at all.  The real truth is this:  For some unknown and unfathomable reason, my ancient ebook computer that I use in my studio won't allow me to access Blogger to write these posts.  Oh, I can add photos, but it won't let me type.  (WTF?)  It's been that way for months.  Therefore, I need to use the computer that's in my house to access blogger.  But the photo files I use are stored in the ebook in the studio.  Which means I write the text at my house, and add the photos later from my studio.  Then go back to the house to edit, spell check etc.

As Mr. Rogers might have asked, "Can you say Pain-In-The-Ass?  I knew you could."

So as you read this, keep in mind all the superhuman effort it takes for me to keep you updated about me and my most innermost thoughts!

You're welcome.

Now, on to the point of this post.

Like a small percentage of realist painters (98.99%) I use photos a lot in my painting.  As much as I agree with those who complain about them, I think that as a tool they are quite helpful.  Keep in mind I said as a "tool".  To snap a photo and then blindly copy everything about it only leads to a painting of a photograph.  But that being said, when I'm out taking photos of possible painting subjects, I try hard to compose the shot as I would if I were composing the painting.  I do keep in mind, as I've pointed out more than once, (twice, and three times) the human eye and the camera lens do NOT see things the same way, so when it comes to the painting, adjustments need to be made in perspective and spatial relationships.  Otherwise, I'm just copying flaws.

Quite often, the photos I took just don't do it for me.  Even though I was moved and inspired by the scene, I'm left cold when looking at my photo.  That's when the miracle of digital photography comes in to play; Because sometimes what I'm looking for isn't the whole scene, but something within it.

Case in point: This past summer, Ellen and I took a lovely day-trip to Monhegan Island.  I took a gazillion photos.  One of them was this one:

It's two "Fish Houses" on a spit of sand called Fish Beach.  Google "Fish Beach, Monhegan" and you will see a ton of paintings depicting these structures.  Who am I to turn down a well-worn painting subject?  Like many before me, I liked the boats, and the buildings;  Except I didn't like the old guy sitting on the step messing up my shot.  So I snapped the pic, and left it at that.  Back in the studio, I was looking at this photo and doing what I usually do: Playing with it.

The photo!  (Geesh-- get your mind out of the gutter...)

I don't use Photo-Shop, but I do use basic editing tools.  Mainly, cropping.  Sometimes the horizontal photo I took looks a whole lot better cropped and re-sized vertically.  On occasion, just the right side of the photo provides an interesting design, and not the whole photo.  In this case, the left side was what intrigued me.

But remember what I said about copying flaws?  I did take care to adjust some things.  I changed the angle of the buildings to establish a more realistic perspective.  I then moved the shadow higher up on the wall to point at the old guy more.  Also, notice in the photo that the skiffs occupy a rather straight line?  I felt that made the composition look too flat.  Thinking it would be more effective to have the shadows act as stepping stones, I altered their position.  Lastly, the guy with the wrap-around glaucoma glasses may be a nice guy and all, but for the fun of it I changed him into a gray bearded sea captain sitting on the steps.

There you have it.  Another painting notched on the wall.  Now, if I don't post for a while, it isn't because I don't want to, it's because I have 16,000 photos to look at, crop and re-size.  I know there's a damn fine painting waiting for me to find it.

It's in there somewhere...


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