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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Snowdrops and photographs

I love snowdrops...even when I have a hard time seeing whether or not they are in focus or not.  This little clump has been blooming since the end of January.  At first, just one lonely blossom.  You can see the empty stalk on the left.  These guys are still hanging on even though we have had abnormally warm and windy days.

Over on the SAQA Yahoo group there's been the most recent kerfuffle going on ....it seems like it is often the same thing....what is art...what isn't art.

The strange thing about this one is that it started out about design and learning the elements of design.  Someone made a comment which was a little disparaging about using photographs.....it didn't bother me at the time nor does it no because what I felt she was really saying is that taking a photograph and referring to it is one thing.....it is a note taker.  But, one REALLY begins to see and understand a design element or image when you DRAW it.  Freehand.  As in not tracing a photograph.  You also then have time to think about it...observe....consider whether the lines are pleasing or not or whether another element might just be better in a different location.

Unfortunately, this was blown out of proportion.

I use photographs.  I can see the point which was being made.  I also think that sometimes we use photographs as a crutch....For instance, I'm notorious at biting off more than I can chew and thinking I have a superwoman cape which will make me faster than I really am.  Then, I fall prey to the thought that "Oh, I'll just trace the elements I want to use from the photograph rather than taking the time to draw it."  Yes, it gets the job done...but have I really learned and seen the whole piece? Considered all of the elements?  Considered what might make the composition better? I think that perhaps if I would take that time to do this, then perhaps my end product would be better than when I take the easy way out.

This isn't to say that using photographs as an element of design is wrong....but I just think that when we are drawing something from a photograph, perhaps it would be more enlightening if we actually DREW it and didn't trace it...perhaps if we actually drew the image THEN thread painted it, rather than printing a photograph on a piece of paper without manipulation and thread painted it from there rather than just stitching over the top with the same color of thread we might actually have something of more interest and strength.

I'm also frustrated at the fact that I once could draw well...I was once good at perspective, but after years of not using those skills, my drawings are not up to my standards...even if they are only mental standards!  It goes back to the "use it or lose it" and you have to practice....and then practice some more.

Yes, copying is a good starting point....and a good confidence builder.  I still copy master art works trying to learn or get the mental exercise of attempting to do something in a style I admire, but don't usually pursue.

Just a thought.   Maybe if we spent more time on actually doing art rather than arguing about what is art and what isn't then we'd actually make some inroads.

4 comments:

Vivien Zepf said...

Well, I'm "guilty" of tracing. Until the on-line discussion, I didn't question it; I considered this a way to circumvent one of my skills that isn't so good right now: sketching. Even after the discussion -- and no disrespect meant to you, Lisa -- I think I will still continue to trace if inspired by one of my photos to do so. I do it because there's something special in the essence of the photo that I want to capture and that would be very hard for me to recreate. From there, my fiber art skills or lack thereof, make the finished piece even more my "own". Still, for the vision I have in my head to work, I need to use the tools I can..... and that includes a tracing of my photographs for now.

Lisa Broberg Quintana said...

Lol...Vivien, I am guilty as charged for the exact same reasons you site....as well as the ones where sometimes I'm just in a hurry.

But, I do feel that I often use the tracing as a crutch...and that I probably won't get any better at sketching if I don't just bite the bullet and sketch. Yes, I do get frustrated. I don't think that tracing when it's called for (I mean really...not everything we do is going to BE works of art sometimes we're doing a study and just want to capture the essence because there's another element we are really working on) is a problem. I do think that at least for me, that sometimes I'm taking the easy way out.

Projection? Guilty as charged. But I do think that we often do overlook nuance and detail when we trace rather than really draw it out and think about what we're doing. Sometimes I think I write better if I write long-hand as the process of writing gives me time to think about what I'm saying and how...and sketching, to me, is the same.

And I'll still consider whatever you do as long as you continue to do it art no matter HOW you get to the end product. You've got some great stuff in those hands. Lisa

Lisa Ellis said...

Lisa,
I nominated you for a Liebster Blog award. If you go to my blog you can read about it.
Lisa

Lisa Broberg Quintana said...

Thanks so much, Lisa! I really appreciate it. I read about it the other day. :)

Lisa