I'm always blown away by the time and especially the skill necessary to create photo realism. But I'm often underwhelmed by the image itself. I see a portrait that could be yearbook or corporate head shot. Why waste six months on a corporate head shot? No one wants to see it, no matter how impressive the skill necessary to create it. When I see paintings like that, the question I always want to ask is, if you are going to devote 40 plus hour to a single painting, shouldn't it be a spectacular composition and concept both?
This is not to say I'm against realism. I'm not. I rarely fall in love with the truly abstract. But if a painting done in a photo realistic style fails in visual impact compared to more imaginative photos, was it worth doing? Shouldn't paintings do what photos can't?
I also like painting that look like photos at twenty feet and become paintings as you get closer. They are fascinating.
This is photo realism worth doing:
Showing what isn't worth doing probably violates forum rules. But I can describe it. If it looks like a high school yearbook photo, a corporate head shot or an amateur snap shot--it wasn't worth the time.
Yours is such a valid point, Jenny, and your chosen images glorify the talent of true artists in the photo-realism style. Yes, there's probably no need to cite/site images that don't meet these standards, but I understand why you'd be concerned..............I remember my beginnings....trying to get it 'right' in every detail, photo-realism yes, but, without 'heart'. It does take maybe a lifetime to get beyond 'reporting exactly' to 'responding photorealistically'. Often still-life becomes bogged down in photorealistic detail too........and then, there are those who give life to their still life's. I have one fav.artist/member whose work is realistic but completely moves me.....so I'll share the example here.....a goal very far to reach,btw......
Inspired by your observation Jenny that, on viewing a video of high realism paintings -- you remarked "The skin and all that bunched up fabric is amazing, but they all run together after a little while. None of them look like real women. Not women who you might talk to anyway."
Photo realism portraits or still life is the outcome of perfecting oneís abilities. Though you may feel 6 months doing a corporate portrait in a photo realistic style is a waist of time, the person whom commissions the work doesnít want just a photo, they want a painting or drawing done by hand by an accomplished artist with high skills to render an image that resembles the likeness of the person or render a scene that doesnít exist already in itís entirety but in the imagination of the client. To them six months of anticipation and waiting to receive and see the final piece is far worth more than most are willing to pay for the talent and time that is spent.
This client had me photograph his car at a car show and asked me to draw his car on the Bonneville Salt flats.
This client wanted a family reunion done for his momís 60th birthday, but most of the family all lived in other states or had passed on. So to make it special for her we created a family reunion that couldnít have been.
A photo composite was created first for this client. The photo composite wasnít what she wanted, she wanted it hand drawn by me, not a photo composite of the photos she gave me to work from.
She paid for the time to have it done to her satisfaction.
It took me years and many hours to perfect my skill, and though many of my older drawings havenít sold yet, each of them have taken me to the level I am today and I am receiving more commissions based on my past work. So the hours and days Iíve spent on creating realist art is not a waist of my time.
One of my closest artwork to photo realism. Details. Details. Details. I hate details when I'm geared up with painting adrenalin, I want to finish my artworks in a snap if I can. I gave approx. 96 hours for this and that is roughly almost 2 weeks! I don't paint during the day, I only paint at night when time permits.
I happen to like doing artworks with impressionist-realistic feel that says it's a painting you are looking at and not a photograph.
I can't speak about all of the artists who are painting in a Photorealistic style but I will say that those we see from the 60s and 70s in our museums are a different lot altogether. The technical achievement is one thing sure, but it is also even more important on what they DID NOT PAINT. Their excellent compositions evolved around the things in a photo that were left out of the painting.
BTW Jenny you are right as usual. Merely "reproducing" an image often leaves me cold.
@ Peter I don't deny photo realism takes skill. It takes more than I have. But for me the bottom line question when I ask whether a piece of art is successful, is is it visually entertaining? Does it entertain the eye?
It is quite possible to take a perfectly focused, reasonably well lit photo that is dull as dishwater, despite being very realistic. Such a photos are more common than not. They are snapshots, yearbook photos, documentary photos, etc. I don't think of them as art and generally speaking, I don't think they are intended to be art. But a photo can easily be art. It's all about composition.
Paintings ought to be at least as entertaining as photos. It's all about composition. If you have both the skill to do realism and compositional skills you get paintings like the ones in this thread. Without the compositional skill you get painted snapshots.
People pay for yearbook photos. I'm sure they pay for similar portraits in paint. Why not? I just don't happen to be one of those people.
I never considered myself a Photo Realist painter but I have heard myself called that at art shows and by my family and friends. Some of my paintings may fall into that category while others fall into the Impressionism category.
Jenny I would have to say that for a portrait to be successful, it has to satisfy and entertain the eye of the artist who creates it, impress the viewers on the skill of the artist, and most importantly satisfy and entertain the patron who commissioned it.
Your starting premise was this: ďWhy waste six months on a corporate head shot? No one wants to see it, no matter how impressive the skill necessary to create itÖÖ..if you are going to devote 40 plus hour to a single painting, shouldn't it be a spectacular composition and concept both?Ē
Not all artworks created are what the artist wants to create, but are commissioned artworks.
For centuries, artists have searched for patrons that will commission artwork from the artist and the patron has a preconceived idea of what they want. Most commonly the patronsí preconceived ideas are not based on an artistic composition or artistic concept but what the patron thinks would look nice to have. It is our duty as a commissioned artist to satisfy their wishes, even though we feel the piece could be so much more if allowed to expand on our creativity. They hired us for one main reason, to render what they want done, not what we want and change their ideas and to do so would be an insult.
In turn, we are financially compensated well (when we truly fully place a value on our time and effort); they praise our abilities and recommend us to others who in turn also hire us. This compensation allows us to continue creating more entertaining compositions that the masses will enjoy and allow us to create what we want.
Yes, artwork should be entertaining and should have a strong composition to make it interesting for the eye and the mind. Its one thing for an artist to create a spectacular composition from their own imagination, but it is another to create a composition based on someone elseís idea and make that spectacular also. We canít alter someone elseís ideas of how a portrait should be, just to satisfy our conception of what we would consider could be more spectacular. Only hope and pray we render it to their full expectations.
Also to add, that in a portrait the primary focus is the person, and the artistsí ability to render a correct likeness of that person, not so much about what all is in composition.
I would say that this is a far more entertaining portrait composition because it allows the eye to wonder around and entertain, but yet it also distracts the eye from staying on the main subject, the portrait of Carroll Shelby and thereby looks more like a photo composite rather than a photo realistic portrait. But it was done for the entertainment for the masses and not a commissioned work.
"Yes, artwork should be entertaining and should have a strong composition to make it interesting for the eye and the mind. Its one thing for an artist to create a spectacular composition from their own imagination, but it is another to create a composition based on someone elseís idea and make that spectacular also. We canít alter someone elseís ideas of how a portrait should be, just to satisfy our conception of what we would consider could be more spectacular. Only hope and pray we render it to their full expectations.
Also to add, that in a portrait the primary focus is the person, and the artistsí ability to render a correct likeness of that person, not so much about what all is in composition. "
Nope you can't alter what the client wants. But don't you find that what they want often results in lesser quality? In the sense that you make money, you certainly aren't wasting your time on portraits that are artistically much like studio photos. And I don't object, not that I have any right to. But really fine portraits are portraits that many many people want to look at and even own, regardless of who the subject is. Those portraits usually say more about the person than a snapshot. They are art. Reproduce a studio publicity shot in meticulous photo realism and you have a publicity shot that took time effort and incredible skill. But it's still a just a publicity shot, just a more expensive and prestigious one.
Posting this as example of experience of intended 'content/composition' of the art.
When I had the painting on display in my studio -- a patron commented -- "You must have actually been there to have caught the detail & light that way."
He'd also been to Churchill, on Hudson Bay (Northern Manitoba, Canada) and we had a great visit reminiscing.
I kept my reference photo handy throughout the development of the piece -- but you really can't beat 'feeling it'.
Upper is the photo -- and lower a portion of the distance I focused on in this painting -- acrylic on masonite board.
Memory of the company of tundra swans gliding down one of the channels added immeasurably to the process of painting it.
When "photo realism" means copying a photograph so exactly that even faint traces of secondary chromatic aberration from the lens are faithfully recorded I start to wonder A) what is the point? and B) Is this really a painting rather than a photo with a noise filter applied to it in processing? There's one in this thread that shows traces of CA if viewed at full size, though you probably wouldn't notice it unless you were a photographer who deals regularly with agencies that are fascist in their rejection of anything with "colour fringing".
There was a scandal a few years ago over a "photo-realistic artist" who pulled the wool over the eyes of the American Watercolor Society with what were almost certainly computer printouts and weren't even her own photos.
One of the problems with this discussion is that no one has defined "Photorealism" which was an actual art movement in the 60s/70s. Is that what we are talking about? Because if it is we are all a bit off of the mark. If the discussion is about making a painting an item/person look real then that is fairly undefinable. Photorealism was about producing a painting that was hyper real not really about exact reproduction of a photograph, a common misconception.
I think generally, most of us mean a painting that looks as accurate as a photo or even more accurate. Not the movement in the 70s and 80s. What I really meant to discuss is whether realism, no matter how impressive in technical skill is enough to make a good painting. I don't think it is. It takes more than that.
And yet when I made one of my photographs, of my cat, look like the painting "Mona Lisa", I was laughed at, go figure. Seriously, I very much like photo-realistic paintings.
However, I seldom see paintings at my local art galleries with a strong composition capture. As a photographer it seems to be all about composition, with proper craftsmanship.
Often I will see a painting with bountiful use of color, detail, perspective, but very poor subject matter, to the point that the composition is pointless.
Often I'm told my prints look like paintings, but I would never consider simulating one as-such. I think I just insulted myself, but not intended of course.
Frank, I guess that's my point. If your painting is so real it can be mistaken for a photo, than it better compete with photos on a compositional level. Otherwise it's like saying no I don't play the cello as well as Yo-Yo Ma, but see I do it with my toes.
But I'm not being entirely fair to real real realists. They actually outdo photographers in reproducing reality. Still I tend to be underwhelmed unless the composition is good though.
Ahh... then I'll climb gently down from my soapbox (so I don't break a hip). I have described what I paint as realism but my son Brad says no. Hmmnn. You are very correct in that technical mastery does not a great painting make.
With the advent of the computer the separation of photograph or painting, or in other words, PIGMENT applied to a canvas has become blurred.
The finer art is the ruler in both cases and we come full circle again to the question, what is or make's art, art?
I will say I find stronger composition in the realm of photography. Stronger mechanical style in the realm of painting, but painting can trump
photography when the Painter becomes Master and realizes both.
Photo realism is done in many mediums these days and require hours upon hours to get completed only to end up with a two dimensional image.
I work with several other artists in town where we work on concept ideas for 25k Ė 150k public and private art proposals. To get the most bang out of our proposals, we push past the limitations of vague or rough concept ideas to get close to a photo realistic concept for the clients. I push way past the time allowed within the budget so my client has an impressive and well thought out proposal to present.
When my clients receives approval for the project commission, for him/her the time and money spent on the proposal was far worth it to them and I receive a bonus and more work.
But when they donít get the project, they feel the time and money was a BIG WAIST.
and they go for a cheaper option the next time. Like photo a composite, or quick sketch that gets the idea across.
Are the final renderings considered fine art? No, but they are still hung on the clients walls.
That's an interesting use of realism. But what, if anything, does it have to do with whether realism is enough to carry a to carry a 2D painting? What you have there, is akin to an architect's rendering of a proposed building.
Sorry Jenny, I thought the topic was about "photo realism" with an entertaining composition, and not about only photo realistic paintings.
If it about paintings, then I apologize for even participating since I'm not a painter.
The skill level of photo realism is so high a bar to set. I think that it is a difficult balance of such hyper realism to a point of Losing the 'painterly appeal'. Some subjects may be affected more then others. a still life or landscape may be better suited than a portrait as the portrait could end up looking no if different then the original photo. Lol. I certainly admire those who have achieved that masterly level.
It occurs to me that one of the aspects of this discussion left untalked about is what "realism" has to do with art. I would opine that the vast majority of non-artists along with many artists feel that the level of technical skill equates with "good" vs bad art. Part of the reason being that the intellectual reasoning and arguments around Modern art are much more difficult to grasp and to discus. BUT a painting that closely mimics what it represents MUST by its sheer technical talent be a good work of art. So goes the thinking of many art observers. (Not me necessarily) I do believe in a certain technical skill but a sheer rendering of a subject often leaves me cold and disinterested.
Realism is not easy. When people say "I can't draw," they mean, "I can't draw realistically." Particularly to non-artists, it may look like an unlearn able skill--a kind of magic gift. Having that skill may even be their definition of what being an artist is.
But, I think that's overly simplistic. Ask that same person who their favorite artist is and you're likely to hear Monet or Van Gogh, neither of whom were realists. Even artists popular with the low brow art crowd are likely to be someone like Kincaid rather than photo realists.
Every state fair across the country has a guy or two who can draw your likeness in fifteen to twenty minutes. He probably is also selling reproductions of his paintings or drawings of celebrities too. He is probably approaching photo realism. He also is not famous, not getting into art shows, and not really making all that much money. But he can do realism.
On the other hand there are very famous realists like Rockwell or Wyeth both of whom composed beautifully.
I think realism is just a tool in the artist's bag of tricks for making an interesting canvas. But just painting something, anything, any old how in a realistic way, doesn't make for good art.
Here are a couple from artist Paul Lung. You can find him on facebook. I love his work.
Here is the link to his page.
I love most things which acheive true realism or photo realism. I appreciate the workmanship and incredible attention to exacting detail. When I see that, I almost always like it even when the piece is poorly composed.
I've not much to add except to say I also have a problem with realism-for-realism's-sake in the non photographic art forms. I think that if I were living before the advent of photography my outlook would be completely different. To my way of thinking, non photographic art must either add something to optical realism or add something to it by virtue of taking something away from it in order for the work to be "valid" (to me). Of course this is also true of photography that seeks to elevate itself above snapshot status. The vast majority of images in this thread accomplish this, IMO...
For better or worse though, the "as much like the fan magazine pic as humanly possible" graphite drawing of the starlet-of-the-month seems to be an 11th grade art class rite of passage.....it was Jennifer Anniston for about 35 consecutive years or so....lol.
Thanks Shauna and Jenny for the kind words about my art.
I agree with many of the sentiments here that I enjoy paintings that are realistic and yet it comes through as a painting. I know that that is one of my goals as a painter, and over time, I've gotten to the point where I want my brush strokes to be seen. One of my favorite art instructors once said to me that a painting should not look like a photo. It should look better.
Learning the technique is, as you say Jenny, another tool. For the work to really be spectacular it has to elicit an emotional response in the viewer; where the viewer relates the work to a story in one's own life or an imagined story for the painting...and/or questions are aroused in the viewer... what happened, what was being said, what were they thinking... to do that there has to be composition and design along with technique.
Anyway, I made a few custom digital brushes tonight and this thread was on my mind as I tested one of the brushes out. This is a piece for the sketchbook rather than a fully finished work.