Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Thinking About Watercolors, Drawings And Photos

This is a watercolor painting by Ian Sidaway of an oil rig in Scotland:

I posted another watercolor by Sidaway a while back, of an English standing stone, in, People Become Things: Carreg Samson. His work appears in many art instruction books and I really like it.

I wonder a lot about watercolor as a contemporary medium. On a personal note I really love watercolors. A while ago I put up a watercolor by Berthe Morisot that may be my favorite painting of all time, in “A Vaguely Fantastic Truth.” But I wonder if the beautiful effects of pigment in water can really compete with photographs and photo-realistic drawing.

When I wanted an illustration of BP’s Deepwater Horizon burning for The Endless Death Of Maple White I considered doing a drawing from a news photograph and I considered doing a painting from a news photograph but I ended up just cropping and tweaking a news photograph.

It’s just so fast and easy to manipulate a photograph into something acceptable that I have a hard time devoting the time and energy to marshalling whatever skills I have at art to do a drawing or a painting that—I always fear—in the end will lack the visual impact of a photograph.

I was in a similar situation yesterday. I wanted something non-technical to illustrate the start of my post about calculators. I had that photograph of a yellow flower I took recently (it looks like it’s deep in nature but it’s right out front of a nearby library). It seemed, and seems, like a perfect composition to re-create in watercolor but I get the feeling that any painting or drawing I could execute of the simple scene would look trivial and amateurish.

That oil rig watercolor by Sidaway is an interesting example of how powerful and contemporary a watercolor can be. However that oil rig required some serious painting skills. The background and foreground are, for the most part, traditional watercolor techniques, washes and dry brush. But the oil rig itself has a lot of absolutely hard edges and absolutely straight lines. I strongly suspect Sidaway used some very non-traditional techniques to create the rig, such as using a liquid resist over a drawing made with drafting equipment. The almost marbled effect of the rig suggests that he may have used negative resist and some kind of wet-on-wet technique in an open area within a protected resist area. It’s beautiful and the final image is great, but it’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of work that requires very particular skills that take a great deal of time and effort to acquire.

I don’t know. This is the kind of stuff I’m devoting a lot of time to trying to think through. I personally like the simple and evocative look of even amateurish illustrations. But I also like the slick, professional look of a reasonably well-produced photograph. I want to do more posts like my story about Jenny & Zombie Sara and I like using graphics in almost all my posts. But I’m having trouble deciding on any final look & feel for this blog’s graphics. I guess I don’t have to choose, but I want to choose and create a consistent look & feel for all the images here.

At any rate, this post is an update on the kind of issues I’m considering.

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This post is updated here:

A Typewriter Preserved From Roman Times

1 comment:

meyerprints said...