Monday, September 20, 2010

The Margins Of Water In The Wild

“Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.”

from Jonah’s Prayer, Jonah 2:8

Believe it or not, this is a watercolor painting by artist James Van Patten:

Writing in “Exactitude, Hyperrealist Art Today” John Russell Taylor describes Van Patten’s images, saying, “Almost alone of the Photorealists connected with Exactitude, his subject matter is entirely non-urban, and his preoccupation with water in the landscape is virtually unique. Whereas others may from time to time incorporate a stretch of river or a pool in an urban park into the scene painted, Van Patten concentrates entirely on the margins of water in the wild.”

I’ve talked in posts about artists like Karen Kilimnik who create ‘painterly’ images of media frames. And I’ve talked in posts about painters like Audrey Flack who create photorealist painted images of media frames.

The word ‘Exactitude’ is used to describe modern artists who take this approach to image-making to the ultimate extreme: They paint photographs. They don’t use photographs as the basis of a composition. They don’t adapt photographs. Rather they capture a composition in a photograph using what Van Patten calls “the intermediate eye of the camera” and then copy the photograph in paint. They paint the lens flares, the particular dynamic range of color and shadow, the color bias, perspective distortions of the lens and every other visible artifact of the photograph.

One or two artists who paint this way copy the image onto a support free-hand using mad drawing skills. Most project the photograph onto paper or canvas or linen and then apply paint over the projection. Linen is a popular support for these painters because an image can be projected onto the back of thin, stretched fabric while the artist works on the front without casting a shadow onto the projection.

Tomorrow UPS is supposed to deliver my two new watercolor notebooks. [Laughs] I’m looking forward to working in them and if I draw or paint anything cool I’ll scan it and do a post about it. But I have no plans to use a camera as an “intermediate eye” and I have no plans to turn myself into an ink-jet printer and re-create photographs using paint. But I am very interested in this movement [?] and I almost certainly will post more about it in the future.

And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant.

But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered.

And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”

But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

Jonah, 4:6-11

I am not a fan of Alan Moore but I mentioned “Watchmen” once in this blog. I admire Moore’s mad drawing skills and his mad energy—often his writing is illustrated by other artists but sometimes he illustrates his own work. He is also something of a mad magician.

I am a very big fan of the book “Seduction of the Innocent” and I’ve always been interested in the way the comics industry [ minions of the comics industry? ] and fans of comics culture have portrayed Dr. Fredric Wertham.

There has always been a strange dark side to the comics industry. Alan Moore, now, has experienced a little of that dark side and is speaking a little openly about it.

I will be writing more about this business, too.

In these last verses the great missionary lesson of the book is sharply drawn: Are the souls of men not worth as much as a vine? Like Jonah, God’s people today are often more concerned about the material benefits so freely bestowed upon us by God than about the destiny of a lost world.

Scofield commentary on Jonah 4:10, Scofield Study Bible

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