Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Teammates, and thoughts on the virtual world

Oil on board, 5.5" x 9"
$165 plus $8 shipping in U.S.
Click image to enlarge
I rephotographed this painting from a year ago and decided to repost it. The first photo was kind of washed out--this one is closer to the original.

I had a conversation with an artist friend recently about the challenges of trying to convey the "feel" of original
paintings in photos or digital reproductions. It's frustrating, as all you artists know. Inevitably the photo, however carefully adjusted, will be a degradation of the original. Making images of the large stone paintings I've posted recently has been especially frustrating. The impact of scale of course is lost; more importantly, reproductions just can't convey the subtle yet powerful "presence" that a good painting projects. The very essence of life in the work seems to drift away like smoke. Adding to the challenge is the way that we view images online these days. Except for home TV's, which are growing increasingly theatrical in size, our digital world is shrinking. My guess is that the majority of those reading this post are viewing a thumbnail image about 1 1/2" high on a cellphone, or only slightler larger on a tablet of some sort.

This will likely sound reactionary, but the danger in this increasingly virtual world we inhabit is that in our minds the virtual can begin to supplant how we think about real life. The next time you catch yourself thinking you've "experienced" a work of art by seeing a little picture of it, remind yourself that there is probably more than meets the eye.


Anonymous said...

Don, you're right that viewing art in digital form removes much of the impact. On the other hand, digital access to images of art allows more exposure for those of us in rural areas. (In my case, 2 hours one way to a major museum or galleries.)
Anne Thrower

Don Gray said...

So true, Anne. It's wonderful that we have access to so much more art because of the internet. The great majority of art we see is experienced virtually--typically through books, magazines and online. I don't want to denigrate that, it's far better than having no access. But whenever one can make the opportunity, a visit to a gallery, museum or artist's studio reminds us that there's no real substitute for firsthand experience.

jimserrettstudio said...

There are many artist optimizing their imagery for viewing on the web. I always wonder what it actually looks like in the real and if that helps or hurts them. I also think that this is a new type of visual art that only exists in pixels on servers. I do not know what that says about painting because the revival in representational art and traditional painting is strongest on the web, in social media and online forums?

Sheila Vaughan said...

So true Don, what you said about the essence drifting away and just out of reach. And I think that is why we sometimes might be tempted to "over egg" the photoshop work to try to compensate. It isn't that we want the work to look "better" - we just want it to convey the feeling we get when we look at what we have produced. What Jim says is very interesting though - that the revival in more representational art does seem to be strongest in our digital, virtual world. If I was an art student at university now and the dissertation was looming there is a great possible subject.

Don Gray said...

Interesting thoughts, Jim. Of course there are artists creating work with digital tools and intended to be viewed on a computer--a new and dynamic field of art. What you say is true--the increased visibility of representational art is conveyed through the web. And despite it's limitations, I think on balance this can't help but be a good thing.

Don Gray said...

You're right, Sheila. Sometimes an image almost has to be "egged", as you say, to even begin to convey the feel of the real thing. This always leaves me in a quandary.

Yes, Jim raised an interesting point I hadn't really thought of. There's always been a strong contingent of representational artists, but the web has allowed greater visibility. Of course I think that's true for almost all types of art.

Gary L. Everest said...

Hi Don,
Great post and so-o-o true. Personally, I'd love to see the rocks paintings with you at one side to add a sense of scale. In addition, there is something to be said for seeing the artist alongside his, or her, work. It personalizes the painting and I'm quite sure such images help sales.
Sadly, this is a "feeling" as opposed to the hard data which is also hugely important to folks today.
Anyway, it's always nice to see your work--old or new.
Have a nice weekend.

Don Gray said...

Hi Gary--thanks for your comments and ideas. I may work up the nerve to do as you suggest and stand beside one of the larger works. I'm a little afraid that the sight of this old grey-haired character might frighten people, though.

Jo Reimer said...

You're so right, Don. I often wondered why old master paintings were considered so highly, especially the Impressionists, when so many artists of our day are making art that seemed better to me. Then I went to Paris. At the Musee d'Orsay I experienced an entire floor of these great works, from inches away, and I finally got it. They deserve the title of Old Masters. No reproduction does them justice, not images on the internet and not books. One needs to see the art up close and personal.

Don Gray said...

Thanks for your note, Jo. It's a reminder that we all need to make the effort, whenever possible, to visit museums and galleries. Nothing like the real thing.

Ruth Armitage said...

Great discussion of a pertinent issue, Don. And I love the painting, by the way! I feel so blessed to have the wealth of visual treasure at the touch of the keyboard... wouldn't trade my nice large monitor for a small screen for anything!

But I agree, in person views are far superior when available. I always encourage people to visit my studio when they can :)

Don Gray said...

Hi Ruth--thanks. I totally agree--have to have my decent-sized monitor. And yes, what an amazing world of art and artists the web has given us!