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You’re not a proper artist unless you can smell the paint

My mother used to say that a woman shouldn’t be a midwife unless she’d given birth to a baby of her own. And I could always understand what she meant. Its a bit like being a tax inspector and yet never having run a business of your own. How can they advise others if they’ve never done it for themselves? I suppose, to a similar degree, there are art critics too, who wax lyrical about the deep and complex meanings behind  a certain work of art, when they’ve never painted anything themselves, and don’t understand that an artist sometimes paints a certain picture for the colours or light within it, and not necessarily the subject matter it depicts.

A friend of mine commented about my last blog post and the way that via Photoshop I can take my exisiting image of the “Nightmares” and twiddle with the balance of colours, contrast, brightness, hues, tones, darks or highlights, and create my own new paint effects with the already painted image. Its’ all well and good, and worth “playing with” to make the best of the image, and maybe enhance to a better degree, but is it necessary? I was happy to do it, as Photoshop is complex and is a new skill I’m learning, and improving on, and its MY images I’m enhancing.

But is it a step too far?

Is it better not to twiddle?

(So to speak. LOL)

And just leave it alone, other than balancing the colours, brightness, contrast and focus to improve the image for my website to show the image as near to the original as I can.

Because, where do you stop?

When the image is past its original concept, and has been “twiddled with” out of all proportion?

Is that still art?

I think so.

But, is it still what the original meaning of art stands for?

To see an image, and capture it on canvas, board or paper. For the artist to balance what they see with what they feel inside, with the touch of the brush or pastel or paint on their fingertips. To feeeeeeel the paint, to mix the water to get the right consistency, to interact with the brush and pastel, to have pigment ingrained in your fingernails, for your back to ache with standing, to have paint smudges on your cheek, to have the aroma of the oils in your nose, the smell of turps overriding everything.

Isn’t THAT about being an artist?

My friend thinks that its a worry that someone can take an image and “enhance” it, and call themselves an artist. To him, a REAL artist is someone who conjours magic from their imagination and transfers those thoughts onto canvas through their own creativity. He wonders if a Photoshop artist just stumbles across things and thinks that it looks good. I know that that is MY experience of Photoshop (and I’M the artist!!!). He says he has no doubts in his mind that a real artist  has a passion and an amazing talented gift for drawing and painting.  But he realises that digital art is also a skill, now borne of our new tech world and asks me if we will see the end of the traditional artist.

And my answer is “No”.

I think people see the huge value in traditional art. Because they recognise that they can’t do it themselves. Even with Photoshop!

Traditional art shows what can be created when a passionate and talented artist is in tune with the materials in their hands and the concept in their head.

Having said that, don’t get me on the subject of “conveyor belt art”. You know the stuff I mean. Or maybe you don’t. Its when a picture is painted by rote. Someone paints the sky, then passes it on….. someone paints the distant hills and passes it on……someone paints the tree trunks and passes it on…..someone paints the leaves on the trees and passes it on……………someone paints the grass and passes it on….and so forth……….and someone eventually “signs” it with a squiggle. That’s not art. That’s taking advantage! Still, some people buy it!!!!!

But its not true art.

Art comes from the heart.