What is Real?


The Ivy League

“A good artist can make you forget the medium, like a magician not showing the wires.”

– Robert Levers

When I show my photography I occasionally get the comment – “that looks like a painting”. Or sometimes a photographer will tell me that when they print their image on watercolor paper, it looks “painterly”.

What do they mean? I think people associate photography with a realistic, hard edged, non-interpretive representation – almost an editorial statement. Painting is associated with personal expression and interpretation, something that gives an illusion of reality (as opposed to photography’s stark portrayal of reality). Of course, both mediums allow the artist to play in the other’s sandbox.

To me, the more interesting photography out there is that which departs from reality. No doubt photography can excel in depicting just what was there. Often, that is as much a matter of being in the right place at the right time as it is any technical skill (though that’s required, too!). Making a photograph that is more than that takes a creative vision, a personal twist. You experience more of the artist themselves. I try to blur the lines between the photograph and other mediums and, in doing so, offer some insight into my creative process.

On the other hand, for my personal taste, I’m not too moved by photorealistic painting. It seems to all boil down to technique with this approach. Any of the artist’s personality, perspective or creative vision is left out. You experience less of the artist with this work.

I wonder if you ever run across an extrovert who paints photorealistically?

3 responses to “What is Real?

  1. I am personally more attracted to both paintings and photographs that are not just a painting “of” something or a photograph “of” something. There has to be more.

    Your leaf composition is beautiful.

  2. A very artful and painterly photograph.

    Funny you should post this… as a painter I sometimes get the comment – “Wow, that looks just like a photograph” (and no, I don’t consider myself a Photorealist by any stretch of the imagination). What I’ve realized over the years is that most people just don’t look that closely.

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