June 2021. Acrylic on canvas. 14 x 18 in.
Now that the studio is comfortable to work in again, I spent most of last week doing multiple photo trials of my more textured paintings. It’s a tricky enterprise: When you light the work to capture more surface texture, you trade away some of the other important qualities of the painting such as layers and variation in value and opacity. It’s hard to hit the right balance. I want to indicate the dimensionality and textural feel but I don’t want the “skin” of the painting to grab a disproportionate amount of the attention. Ultimately, my goal in a photographic reproduction is to convey as closely as I can the sense of standing in front of the painting and experiencing it fully, in person, in all aspects.
This was an enterprise that did not fascinate me. I am not a photographer and I don’t want to be one. I’m just trying to record the work as “accurately” as I can. And I’m a pretty dogged person, so I worked through all the variables that were reasonably available to me, which took some time. In the end I realized that there was no perfect version, but rather just the version best for the particular purpose at hand.
As the importance of texture and dimensionality has increased in my work, my antipathy toward digital reproduction has been foregrounded. There are SO many digital images saturating our every day, leading to a constant visual chaos and cacophony. Perhaps it’s different for you, but I am left with a sense of emptiness and exhaustion. More and more, I prize the actual, real-life artwork. An experience of shallowness versus an experience of depth.
This is a main reason why I’m not on Instagram, etc., and don’t seek out additional opportunities to post my work on-line. This aversion obviously complicates my art career in the time of covid. But apparently I don’t care.
Let’s get off the screens and smell the paint, people. Time to reach out for what’s real.