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View Full Version : A question of "ethics", I suppose...


susme48
02-21-2008, 01:44 AM
I am nervous about asking, but I really want to know your opinions...so here goes...I have a question...I read some posts in another forum, about tracing....and I wondered why there is such an uproar about it? Apparently it is a touchy subject, but since I have been known to do it, and can say from experience, that, like my sketches, the lines from tracing are just as gone after the first layer of paint as tho' they had never been there. I do it, not to get detail, just placement.

I really don't get what the furor is about. According to what I have read, the painters as far back as the 1400-1500's used mirrors, ocular viewers, or camera lucidias, that gave them a similar affect to a projector, which alot of artist's use...and with a projector, it/the outline of the pic, is always there. I have been reading this book called Secret Knowledge...rediscovering the lost techniques of the old masters, by David Hockney...and it is facinating.

The thing I see is that whether it is sketched, traced, or even painted on top of a complete picture...once the first layer or two of paint is on, you have lost whatever is underneath. And the sketch, tracing or photocopy or whatever, cannnot paint the painting for you...YOU have to add the paint, blend the colors correctly, use the right shadows, and colors to give it depth, and so on and so forth. I don't see much difference, in the ones I sketched, or traced, from the ones I just painted, except perhaps for, as I said earlier, the placement of objects, in relation to other objects. The artist still has to come up with the composition and design.

I know for a fact, that trace or no trace, I still can get the perspective wrong, the eyes wrong, the nose too high or low...it does not seem to matter. I have heard it said that if you use any kind of tool other than a brush, you are not a true artist...and even heard that applied to mediums.

I am willing to be open-minded, but I have to admit I don't see what the furor is about. If I am supposed to feel guilty, I don't. I am often less pleased by the ones that I trace, because I don't see how I can mess them up...lol. But it seems to me, that to use whatever is at hand, to paint something beautiful, whether it is textured gels, retarders, mud, sand, projectors, photographs, or whatever...It is no different than what has been done before. Maybe, the technological level has changed, but Wharhol used a projector, and Michelangelo used tracing in his frescos.

But to quote David Hockney..."optics do not make marks, they cannot make paintings. Paintings and drawings are made by the hand" (of the artist)...and later in the book it was said that Caravaggio was sneered at because he could not paint without a model...oh to be able to paint like he did.

Anyway...a long post, I know; I just am curious as to what y'all think in this forum; I am amazed at the attitude of some towards not only this sensitive subject but also being self-taught, or the great debate over oils versus acrylics. IMO, it seems kind of silly. But I would still like to hear your opinions, since I respect what y'all do, and the work that you turn out.

I hope I have not opened a can of worms, or a subject that has been rehashed to death earlier...if I have just say so, and I will retire my questions.

howyadoin
02-21-2008, 01:57 AM
I could be wrong, but I'd guess the furor is over "artists" who trace other people's work.

~~Kathleen
02-21-2008, 02:13 AM
I agree with Howya here.
To use a tracing of , lets say, a photograph is not a terrible thing.
If you use it for placement, I see where this can really help you as an artist.
To trace anothers painting and use it as your own would be wrong in my books, but I don't think that is what you mean here Susy.
~~Kathleen

clumboy
02-21-2008, 04:23 AM
i agree with what has been said here. the way i learned to paint was through decorative painting (craft) books. tracing the pattern is just the way its done. i paint on a lot of different surfaces and have always traced--whether it is a pattern meant for that purpose, or a tracing made up from a drawing that i have done. try drawing a cat or something freehand on a metal watering can or other piece of recycled junk.
there are a lot of problems inherent in using photographs--as you point out. light source and perspective are just two of them. but they can also help you freeze action and visualize large shapes and help with placement. patterns can do the same things. do i wish i drew fabulously--like degas or leonardo? sure i do. guess what--i don't. do i wish i had the mental discipline to perfect my drawing skills--absolutely--and its something that i keep striving for. even if i paint from a photo or pattern i draw the image first--to learn what i am looking at. my drawings are never as accurate as i would like them to be. but in the meantime--the act of painting is what draws my heart--and if i made up my mind i wasn't going to paint unless i drew things out in detail on the paper, i very much doubt i would paint anymore. sometimes i think a traced images looses some of the spontanaety that an image drawn directly on a surface has--but the way my mind works i also loose some of the planning that i need when i just start working on what will be the finished piece right away. thats just me though.
should you copy someone elses work for any purpose other than learning something you don't know? absolutely not--whether you draw it, paint it or whatever. why would you want to anyway? should you look at how other people solve problems and follow in their tracks to solve your own? how can any of us claim we don't do that? art is about what comes out of your OWN head--not how well you can mimic what comes out of someone elses! but some of what comes out of our heads is how we interpret the visual images in front of us. and maybe for some of us, tracing is a part of how that is done. chris

edtree
02-21-2008, 07:22 AM
Hi Susan!

I've seen a few of these threads on Wet Canvas since Ive been a member and know there are strong feelings about this and the grid method. I don't think the debate is about tracing others' paintings or drawings, but the method itself. Some consider using these techniques cheating.

When I started drawing and painting, I didn't use anything but the freehand and eyeball method - then I took a class where the instructor introduced the grid. I used it for a while, but don't anymore. I enjoy the challenge of trying to get things right using my own skills. Even so, I don't consider it cheating or bad for artists to use either the grid or to trace, for the reasons you pointing out. Even with a traced or gridded starting point, a painting/drawing can be a masterpiece or a dud depending on the abilities of the person holding the brush. It is the outcome that matters.

It will be an interesting discussion in this forum. I look forward to reading the responses.

Elizabeth

gurleygirl
02-21-2008, 07:53 AM
Personally, I don't think it's cheating. I think you should get the image on the canvas any way you want to and then work your magic. Go for it.:D
Tracey

Roger Evans
02-21-2008, 08:23 AM
I used to draw everything by eye and did it for years and years until I started doing commercial art back in the late 70s and early 80s. Then I had clients that were more concerned about deadlines than whether I drew by eye. Since, based on my skill level, the results would be the same, I did not hesitate to start tracing off reference lines for my paintings using a slide projector.

An artist friend of mine some years back once scolded me about tracing reference lines and we got into a heated debate. She felt that it was cheating because she drew her reference lines on her paper overlay by eye and did not use any kind of projector. I then asked how she got those reference lines transferred to her canvas. She replied, "Well I use graphite paper and trace them, of course." So much for not cheating, eh?

But here's the deal buster: When someone makes a big deal out of tracing, ask them to free-hand draw a perfect circle (no template allowed) and then to finish the painting as a glass marble, complete with reflections, transparency, color and sheen. That usually shuts them up. ;)

Ultimately, even with traced reference lines, there is still the need for hand/eye coordination and the ability to judge negative space and placement; all of which will fail if you didn't have the ability to do the drawing by eye to begin with. So, as far as I'm concerned, those that feel tracing is a "cheat" really miss the point and that is, for a skilled artist, tracing reference lines is merely a time saver since the results will come out the same.

I have very little time to paint and I no longer feel the need to prove that I can draw. I suppose if I were a carny act, sitting at an easel with customers that paid to come see me draw by eye, then that would be different. But my customers don't pay to see me draw by eye any more than they expect me to make my own canvas or brushes, which is what the masters had to do for centuries. I would rather use my time creatively than proving a pointless point since I know for a fact that I could give many opposing artists one of my canvases with the reference lines already in place and they would not be able to complete it successfully.

My two cents.....

Roger

loobyteacher
02-21-2008, 08:44 AM
I know many who consider Norman Rockwell an illustrator and not an artist. I know many that if you don't us a certain brush or type of paint you are not a true artist. Snobs can be found anywhere. Rockwell used a projector sometimes to get placement....... Oh to be a Norman Rockwell.
My thought is that there are many people that are trying to lift themselves to a higher status by putting down others.
I tell my students it doesn't matter what brush you use, it is the desired result that matters. I had a student that painted only by using her hands. Her work is some of the best I have seen.
I do believe that we should constantly improve our drawing skills, really looking and seeing what is really there. The tools should simply be that - tools. If you don't develop your talent the tools will only take you so far. I think that perhaps those that are against tools feel that others will not learn to really look.

vhere
02-21-2008, 08:52 AM
each to their own methods

I think tracing or gridding (or even camera obscura :) ) works for people who are more left brained - they need to organise differently

I come out as totally right brained on tests and it doesn't help me at all to use those methods - I actually find it difficult! and I need to work freehand.

i also like the alterations and unconscious distortions that happen freehand. For me these make a painting more interesting - but that's just my opinion and is neither right nor wrong for other people. I'm not a photo realist but do think good observation is crucial.

susme48
02-21-2008, 09:27 AM
Thanks for the input so far, it is helping me to see the ideas that others had, right off the bat.

I did not mean that one should EVER sketch, trace, use a projector or whatever, on the works of another artist. If I were to attempt anything by someone else it would be one of the "oldies". From what I understand, I can attempt all the Rembrandt's I want as long as I don't sign his name, which would make it a forgery, not a copy.

But I can tell you this, no matter what method I used, it would never look like anything he painted, because my skill level is not that high. As I said earlier, even with an occasional tracing, I can still mess it up.

I was only talking about using tracing with a photographic reference, one taken either by oneself or by someone whose permission you have...and simply for placement purposes...not anything else...and as Roger said...to save a bit of time.

Don't know about left or right brain, here...not sure with the way things go with my son, if there is any brain some days...lol. But I find that if I do not at least sketch things out, I am not usually gonna get things in the right place. I don't do so well, picturing things in my head, I do better seeing it on paper first, whether it is a sketch or a photo...and then go from there.

I spend as much time as I can sketching, because I want to learn, but with the pressure I am under here at home, I often do not have the time....and it becomes either sketch or paint, and I would rather paint.

Again, thank you for responding!

RogerPf
02-21-2008, 10:01 AM
I tried tracing when I started to paint (five years back) but I found it both dull and taking longer than just drawing. So I stopped.

Of course there are times when tracing or the logical equivalent is the correct thing to do. The most obvious one is for a large mural you have to design small and then scale up.

I do see a problem with tracing and that is loosing or not developing the skill of "working from life".

These days I work mainly by using an A4 (letter paper size) print of a photograph and supporting it vertically. I try to treat the photo as if it was a model (or landscape) but one being very still. :)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Feb-2008/16465-acrylic_head.jpg
This is a quick, not very good, acrylic done for the WDE a couple of months ago
Doing this has the advantage of making "working from life" a small step and even the jump to 'pleine aire' is no big issue.

There is nothing immoral about tracing but all art teachers I know encourage "tracers" to try to add other strings to their bow.

Fainsbert
02-21-2008, 10:08 AM
The only tracing I disagree with is tracing someone else's painting. Absolutely no creativity there! Are you painting for the purpose of receiving kudos from others or are you painting for yourself?
I began drawing freehand as a child. When I started with paints I used "paint by numbers"...again as a child, but a bit more creative if you went out of the lines :lol:
I think Roger said it all and I do sometimes trace (my own work) if I'm in a hurry. I just do it for placement.
I recently started scratchboard and boy, you really have to trace that or you may end up starting over 10 times on a new board!
I agree with Loobyteacher. Some people must simply put others down due to their own insecurity.
I say whatever floats your boat....go for it and have a good time!
Lucie

Linee
02-21-2008, 10:45 AM
each to their own methods

I think tracing or gridding (or even camera obscura :) ) works for people who are more left brained - they need to organise differently

I come out as totally right brained on tests and it doesn't help me at all to use those methods - I actually find it difficult! and I need to work freehand.

i also like the alterations and unconscious distortions that happen freehand. For me these make a painting more interesting - but that's just my opinion and is neither right nor wrong for other people. I'm not a photo realist but do think good observation is crucial.

I think I must be 1/2 and 1/2. I'm left-brained when it comes to drawing. Hence, I do some gridding...especially for architecture and figures. But once the sketch is down, I switch to right-brain. :) I eventually want to become a more free-hand drawer. It's simply more convenient at times.

Bill_E
02-21-2008, 11:32 AM
There is always a lot of debate between tracing or free hand, grids or sight, plein air or studio, photo ref or life. Some of it's helpful, some of it is artistic snobbery (in my opinion). Many an accomplished well know painter breaks the "rules" freely.

For what its worth I prefer free hand for the simple reason that it forces me to really see, but I use a grid from time to time. I suspect if I had room to set up a projector in my studio/office/library/storage room that I would from time to time use that. To me, they are just tools to create art, they are not the art

Having said that, there is a certain aesthetic to art making to be enjoyed. I like the aesthetic experience of fly fishing, but if I had to make money fishing, I would use a net. If one enjoys plein air better than photo refs, free hand better than tracing/grids, then by all means, but it's not a rule.

I will qualify this by saying that "duplication" or direct copying a large portion or totality of a photographer's or painter's art is questionable at best unless it is clearly stated that it is what you are doing giving suitable credit and compensation where required. That is copyright/ethics issue, but I don't think that is what you were talking about.

MrsG_SoCal
02-21-2008, 01:41 PM
I have very little time to paint and I no longer feel the need to prove that I can draw.
This is the first thought that came to my mind. :thumbsup: I know I can draw and have proved it to myself many times. I have let myself release the drawing snob in me. Some paintings I use a grid/projector. Some I want to draw. Even with the "cheating" method, I find I have to adjust it to look right to my eye.

The masters did it. Good enough for them. Good enough for me.

Ms.Understood
02-21-2008, 02:17 PM
On another forum, I as well created an uproar when I said I thought projection and tracing were cheating--I really meant for me. I draw things I'm comfortable with fairly well, but feel I'm not as skilled as I can be by just flat out practicing eyeballing it. But I agree that any of these methods are a TOOL and not the art.

I know I've had a lot of teachers (and been one myself) totally apposed to tracing, and I think the very reason is more for learning the skill of drawing. However, I think some people who were or witnessed someone get berated in an art class for tracing are taking the lesson to another level when it comes to the sketch before the painting.

dreamz
02-21-2008, 03:32 PM
When I was young I would trace a shape that I just couldn't do by hand and then finish it on my own but it never felt like "mine" I always knew I had cheated.
That just made me work harder at being able to do it by hand even when it took a box of erasures to one lead:lol:
Now, like Rodger said Ive pretty much proven, to myself at least, that I can draw almost anything if given enough time and the right tools (sometimes even the wrong tools:lol:) so I don't feel so bad about tracing a basic shape if I need to save time. A lightbox is just another tool like a circle template even if that lightbox is just a window.
Theres another aspect of tracing as well, one that I use more often and thats to work up a drawing by hand until Im satisfied with it and then trace my own work to onion paper to use as a transfer to a canvas.
A form of traceing that Ive used a lot in the past and sold was to trace my drawings onto glass using a diamond tip in a highspeed rotary tool. Even though it WAS a tracing no 2 were ever completely alike due to the angle I was looking at the piece or just the changing of a few engraved lines

brusher
02-21-2008, 05:46 PM
Back in the 80's/early 90's, the popular look was "photorealism" and artists (both commercial and fine arts) and art students were encouraged to make their work look as realistic as possible, by tracing photographs. I admit it looks very impressive as you can get very small, precise details that way, but for me it always felt like paint-by-numbers and very restrictive; just couldn't relate to it and didn't enjoy working that way.

Susan, you should do whatever you're most comfortable with. Some painters are not necessarily good "draw-ers", and some good "draw-ers" are not nec. good painters. Many great illustrators have done beautiful work, and even if traced from photos, their great skills in painting are what is memorable - capturing the light, shade and drama or detail. Some people will always complain, no matter what :)

I think the question had to do with tracing from photographs; I've never even heard of an artist tracing someone else's "painting"! How did the conversation get steered in that direction? Who does that?

Gridding makes sense in my opinion, and since I have terrible proportions problems, without gridding my work is really off and must have a lot of clean-up (correcting the drawing as things are REALLY "off" :)) This is a technique used by the Old Masters, etc. and I don't see it as being akin to tracing at all. It's simply a way to ensure accuracy.

Cathy

CamiTampa
02-21-2008, 07:48 PM
What a wonderful thread. Tracing, projecting, and gridding are all tools for us to use. Pencils are but a tool too. I draw my pen and ink drawings with pencils first, my paintings too. I predraw almost everything. A purest would call that cheating.

Back to tracing, it's a tool, I've done it. Why shouldn't I? I'd be happy to give anyone a simple outline so they can see what it takes to produce a painting. Mostly I draw freehand but sometimes not. The nots are usually portraits that are from photos and it is simply a time saver.
If I was teaching a class of artists to draw, I would not allow tracing for the class. But I would tell them about it and even encourage its use for their own work post class.

Like Dreamz, I know I can draw and do draw alot, but I feel okay about occasionally using tools.
Cami

Lady Carol
02-21-2008, 08:16 PM
I trace when needed and in actual fact I have just finished tracing a couple of photos for a painting. The purists say you can't trace and to some extent tracing does not improve drawing skills although I beg to differ. I do draw but when I am painting, I want to slap around the colour rather than to draw and redraw and then eventually trace what I have drawn and transfer it to canvas.

At the end of the day, these are all tools to be used as you feel necessary. One way isn't any better than another way. Don't sweat the small stuff. Use whatever you want to get the result you want.

JamieWG
02-21-2008, 08:23 PM
I could never understand why anybody would be interested in pursuing the "trace and color" approach to art, but to each his own. I think that trying to capture that initial sketch on the canvas is as challenging and interesting as the rest of the painting process. It says a lot about how we see our subject, which in turn has a bearing on our interpretation and unique view of the world. I much prefer to draw my inspiration from the world around me and work from life, whether still life, portraiture, figures, interior scenes, or landscapes. I like to get my inspiration directly from the source, and see drawing skills as an important component in the artistic process. I do work from photos on occasion, but it is not my preference.

Jamie

dspinks
02-21-2008, 09:03 PM
I also am a tracer when using a photo reference, but I usually don't worry about capturing every detail, mostly the bigger forms and perspective relationships. I also like to draw from life. It keeps me on my toes.

Debra

MadMaddy
02-21-2008, 09:16 PM
For many years I drew freehand even from a photo reference. It was very time consuming though it also could be very satisfying once it was accomplished. I still draw freehand but I also have included using the grid method and once in a while a tracing or projection. Just depends on what I am working on and, with a two year old, how much time i actually have on hand to finish a painting, also it depends on who or what I am doing the painting for/of. Most of the time I have used tools is when I am doing a portrait for someone else and it absolutely has to be accurate in placement of features and has to be done by a certain time.

That being said, I do think that drawing is a very important skill to develop. It will only improve your paintings. So to sum up, the tools are there for us to use to our discernment and I see nothing wrong with adding them to your repertoire but in the end if that is all you ever use, you may be selling yourself short as drawing can and will improve all your other work.

howyadoin
02-21-2008, 10:25 PM
I have very little time to paint and I no longer feel the need to prove that I can draw. I suppose if I were a carny act, sitting at an easel with customers that paid to come see me draw by eye, then that would be different. But my customers don't pay to see me draw by eye any more than they expect me to make my own canvas or brushes, which is what the masters had to do for centuries. I would rather use my time creatively than proving a pointless point since I know for a fact that I could give many opposing artists one of my canvases with the reference lines already in place and they would not be able to complete it successfully. Some very good points here, Roger. But of course, when somebody's at your level, then yes, it's obvious they can draw. With a lot of the art I see out there these days, though, it's obvious the artist in question can't draw. In those cases, I think tracing is a crutch for someone too lazy to learn the most basic components of the art form.

Foxyheart2002
02-22-2008, 04:51 AM
There is nothing wrong with tracing. It is the same as using a projector. Just make sure it is a tracing of your own photo or drawing or whatever.

Roger Evans
02-22-2008, 08:58 AM
Some very good points here, Roger. But of course, when somebody's at your level, then yes, it's obvious they can draw. With a lot of the art I see out there these days, though, it's obvious the artist in question can't draw. In those cases, I think tracing is a crutch for someone too lazy to learn the most basic components of the art form.

Well, exactly. That's what I previously meant when I said that if one can not draw by eye, then traced reference lines are not really going to help with the finish on the painting. Every brush stroke has to be placed correctly and that still requires the ability to judge negative space, placement, etc. Reference lines are merely a tool and only one of many that have to be used with skill. Knowing how to load and hold a gun does not mean one will hit the target.

Roger

TxAggieDarlin
02-22-2008, 10:53 AM
I say do whatever you need to do to enjoy painting the picture....Do what is right for you.
Of course I do NOT mean tracing other's work LOL

I started with digital painting and I learned so much from that. I did NOT paint over or just change it around with magic of PSP, but I used a brush and really learned what worked and what did not. I do not feel that was cheating, just learning. But a LOT of people come down hard on digital painters too. It works the same---just no mess and no canvases laying around LOL

Just enjoy painting!!

idylbrush
02-22-2008, 11:21 AM
I don't think it any different than using photoshop for composition, or any of the gridding techniques used by Durer just to name one. You still have to have the developed skills. There isn't an overhead projector in the world that can paint.

Roger Evans
02-22-2008, 12:03 PM
There isn't an overhead projector in the world that can paint.

Well said.

Roger

Katwyld
02-22-2008, 12:30 PM
I've traced and used grids, and always for placement... For my guitars painting, I used it for the placement of the frets (too much measuring otherwise) after I got the necks and guitars drawn out (which was all the measuring I wanted to do), and for the puppies I just painted, I gridded both female dogs for the eyes and nose (already had the rest of the face in)... I wish I'd just done the grid right off with the mommy dog... I wasted a whole weekend trying to get the placement right, and finally did the grid, and it only took a little time after that.

As everyone has said, as long as you're not tracing someone else's work to pass off as your own, I don't see it really being as much cheating... I'd rather draw it all 'by eye', but time contraints and major frustration play a factor... as Carol said, I'm painting to paint... and if I'm so frustrated and irritated from the drawing part, I feel like that will reflect in my actual painting (it almost did with the mommy dog), and I do this for fun and challenge.. not stress.

*shrug* I guess I don't see it as being any different than using a ruler with drawing buildings... Course, I tend to think I'm both brained, so that's just my take on things... :)

JamieWG
02-22-2008, 01:21 PM
But here's the deal buster: When someone makes a big deal out of tracing, ask them to free-hand draw a perfect circle (no template allowed) and then to finish the painting as a glass marble, complete with reflections, transparency, color and sheen.

Even better, ask two artists to do it---from life: one who never draws freehand or works from life, and one who always draws freehand and works from life. I think you'll see a difference.

I view it as part of the challenge. That's what I love about art---the process. The more you do it, the quicker it goes. It gets to the point where it's faster to freehand these things than to deal with tracing, transferring and projecting. I don't even draw most of those symmetrical objects out first anymore; I just go right in with straight paint. Like anything else, the more you practice that, the easier it becomes. It's not the quick and easy route at first, and it's not always perfect, but if you ever want to have the artistic freedom and joy of pulling out your paints in a cafe and painting what's before you, turning out a good figure painting in open studio, or successfully painting en plein air, there's really no other way to get there.

If you want a perfectly round marble with all the reflections, transparency, color, detail, and sheen of a photo, there is already a perfect and easy 21st century solution to that. You can use the photo. Why paint at all? :D

I am playing the devil's advocate here a bit. I can understand why somebody would trace, especially in portraiture commissions, where it takes a highly skilled eye to produce the perfect likeness, especially from life. Most people simply do not possess the skill necessary to do that, and many are not interested in acquiring that skill. I can also see the point in terms of getting a bit of a jump-start to the painting process as beginners, so that they can get beyond what is for them a difficult drawing phase, and just work on color application. But my point here is that if you ever want to be able to paint that portrait from life or the still life on the table before you, the only road there is to jump in and start drawing, and begin to walk down the path of developed freehand drawing skills.

I'm always amazed by how many artists work from photos all the time, mainly because I just don't personally find it very interesting to do so. And then I'm even more amazed by how many amateurs (and even some professionals) trace those photos. However, at some point, it is really beneficial to take the time to backtrack and start working on the drawing skills, and gradually wean off the tracing dependency, because it opens up a new world of painting in many ways.

I don't mean that to sound condescending; I say it because there is a huge joy in completing a work from life directly from the source. Buyers don't care; they purchase what they like regardless of how it was created. I've rarely had anybody ask if the landscape they want to buy is a plein air painting or done in the studio or traced from a photo. The process means nothing to most of them. The only ones who have a stake in the actual process are the artists. I can't help the feeling that artists are shortchanging themselves, and their excitement of the "live" process, by always tracing. That feeling of capturing the essence of a subject directly from the source through brushes is a real thrill, and a different way of living through art.

Artists who trace will always justify tracing. If you're tracing, you obviously feel okay about tracing! That is to be expected, especially considering that many have rarely painted from life, don't do much freehand drawing, and so therefore do not have a personal comparison to make between the two in terms of the process. Even I can understand that. ;) :D Those who make the leap and commit to their drawing skills rarely go back though, and that says something to me.

Since most folks on Wetcanvas seem to trace and work mainly from photos, I guess I'll duck behind my chair now, and get ready to wipe off all the paint splatters that come my way, and play catch with the tomatoes. ;)


Jamie

MCARTERMLB
02-22-2008, 01:54 PM
Ok, I have to put my 2 cents into this! If it bothers you don't do it and don't knock those who do. I don't use projections, but, I do feel it has to be something I drew, and then I will use transfer paper under my drawing to apply it to the canvas, it's my drawing. I am new to painting, but I agree with MR. EVANS, if I had deadlines and needed to get it done, and was doing alot of paintings, I believe I would use a projector. If you do not have the skills or the tallent, then I don't care how much tracing you do, you still won't be able to paint the picture.

Katwyld
02-22-2008, 02:13 PM
Since most folks on Wetcanvas seem to trace and work mainly from photos, I guess I'll duck behind my chair now, and get ready to wipe off all the paint splatters that come my way, and play catch with the tomatoes. ;)

I almost always work from photos... that's likely due to the fact that I love doing closer to realism which takes time, and also my love of painting animals, which, no matter how well they're trained, will not sit still long enough to let me paint them. :D

Painting from photos also allows me to paint scenes I will likely never visit, or paint things I don't own... Different ceramic pots, horses, guitars, a cat of a different color than the one I "own", plants/flowers that don't grow here... I have painted 'live' and it has it's own thrill, too.... I think there are different reasons for doing whatever at the time, and it's all good.

I agree to a point that someone that always traces will justify it, and that someone that has only traced won't learn the skills of drawing... But 'always' and 'only' I don't think describe most of the folks on here..

*shrug* I guess, to me, there's applications for all kinds of tools... I'm also more of a 'planning' person, so even my abstracts tend to have a plan... although that might be for most people, I'm not sure. heh But when I want a circle, I want a circle.. and with a natural shake, it's a little hard to get it right. :p

idylbrush
02-22-2008, 02:23 PM
Don't worry you didn't sound to condescending, or judgmental or even to elitist. :wink2:

Many artists over the years have used aids to lay down the basics I think the Camera Lucida and Camera Obscura may be fine examples, and these date back a few centuries. These weren't created to "cheat" they were created to be tools to insure a certain accuracy that might otherwise be lost. It is not uncommon to grid a panel, do you think we should lump that in the mix as well. It is a "tool" afterall. And what of a pricking wheel and pounce bag, do they get lumped into that group as well?

If I have created and done a finished cartoon why shouldn't I transfer that to a surface, I've done the work once. Maybe I need to "suffer for my art more" but really, I can't be bothered. If it is resolved, I want to get to the painting part, not spend more time re-doing work I've already done.

Learn the basics, and practice, practice, practice, paint, paint, paint.


To quote Edgar Degas: "A picture is something which requires as much knavery, trickery, and deceit as the perpetration of a crime."

LavenderFrost
02-22-2008, 03:16 PM
Yes, I have traced, and most often use a grid. And yes, I know I should be working in my drawing skills. I often tell people that I can paint but I can't draw. :lol:

I agree with a lot of what Kat said above. I have done a lot of landscapes, and it takes me a long time to get a painting done, and I have a terrible memory. I need the photo to hold things still for me. I am constantly taking pictures for future references.

I think natural talent plays a part too. I know, practice practice and you will learn the skill. But I think it comes easier for some people. Some might only need 10 years while others might need 200. :lol:

Another thing I have thought of, which I brought up in digital once, is maybe I have a hard time because of my glasses. Those of you who wear them should know what it's like when you get a new pair. For me, everything is rounded and smaller. After a while, I get used to it and can function normally again in daily life. But in drawing, who knows, a slight tilt of the head could distort things in different ways.


I like that Degas quote.

debee
02-22-2008, 03:30 PM
I like the Degas quote too. I use a combination of drawing and projection in most of my works in the last few years. There was a time when I used to draw from reference/real life only and like Roger......my time these days is very limited. Laying down a few basic lines (and I mean VERY basic) with a projector gets me to the real task of putting paint on canvas much quicker.

I do enjoy when I actually have to time to do a detailed pencil drawing though. It's still a very satisfying experience.

JamieWG
02-22-2008, 03:42 PM
To quote Edgar Degas: "A picture is something which requires as much knavery, trickery, and deceit as the perpetration of a crime."

Be careful in quoting Degas! He knew all about such things for sure. I love his paintings, but he'd have been no friend of mine. I'm not surprised by that quote.

Jamie

howyadoin
02-22-2008, 04:03 PM
Knowing how to load and hold a gun does not mean one will hit the target.Hah. Nicely put.

I don't think it any different than using photoshop for composition, or any of the gridding techniques used by Durer just to name one.What's funny about that is, I've been drawing my whole life, and using Photoshop professionally for 16 years, but it really only occurred to me in the last couple years to use it in the composition stage. Now I've started doing more detailed thumbnails, scanning them and blowing them up to the full size of the painting.

howyadoin
02-22-2008, 04:07 PM
I view it as part of the challenge. That's what I love about art---the process.Absolutely. I'm obsessed with the process.

Anybody's, really. I love talking to people in any creative field about their creative processes.

susme48
02-22-2008, 04:23 PM
Howard, I love that quote from Degas! And I wish I had time to respond to everything everyone has said, but I am short on time as usual.

This certainly got more of a response than I ever expected...and alot of diversity of opinion. Just to satisfy myself I went thru all of my work (which thank god is only 5, almost 6 months now and not years) , and I found that I only used tracing or even sketching on less than a fourth of it. Not nearly as much as I thought I had.

I don't want to beat a dead horse, or bore anyone with my life, but I would love to only be dealing with Madmaddy's two yr old here...lol. I am sure I am not the only person trying to paint and raise a special needs child/adult...but until you have been there you don't quite ever see the world the same again.

I raised 3 "normal" kids, one of which had 6 major surgeries before she was 5, and lived thru alot of crap that no one wants to know, but I know for a fact that I had less stress and more time then, even when I had three at home under the age of 5, than I do now. I woke up yesterday with the oven on, the coffee pot with the grounds removed, the toaster buzzing from being held on after the cycle was over, and the microwave door broken....this was at 5:30 am...and to say that the day went downhill from there is putting it mildly. Only thing I can say about yesterday is that it was a day where I did not get punched or hit or kicked for a change. So yep, once in awhile, I am gonna take the quick way, and not sketch it myself.

I spent quite a few years drawing and doing charcoals as a teen, but ran into "real life", and never had much time to pursue it later. I started doing alot of digital work a few years ago...and as TxAggieDarlin said....I learned alot doing it the hard way, not just morphing things...tho' I did change a few heads around over the years...lol.

I don't want to be argumentative, but I find it hard to accept that what I have occasionally done as "trace and color", no offense...and IF I had the time to spend sketching, walking outdoors and traveling to spots that would be beautiful to paint...I would, oh, lordy I would! I would love to have the luxury of time and money to study the art of painting from a teacher; to sit and sketch a model; to sit in the sun and paint the beauty around me...just even here on our own 16 acres. But even now, to answer this, I have used an hour of the time, that I had to paint before the bus comes. I spent the morning watching hundreds of special needs kids have a great time playing basketball for the special olympics at the college. So until sometime after 9 or 10, it will not be quiet again or peaceful.

Yet I figured that since I started this thread, I should not "desert it"...I am not trying to sound defensive, altho' when I read back over what I have written, I suppose I am. Since I started painting at the end of August, I have found something, that is saving my sanity, and is letting me contribute just a tiny something so far, towards the household budget.

I have found a joy in painting that I never thought was "out there", and I am revelling in it. It calms me, and brings me peace as well...and I think my family is enjoying that too...lol. In this forum, or WC as a whole, I have found a group of interesting, and diverse people who are for the most part willing to share with me, and others the things they have learned. I will never find a way to thank everyone, or share with you, in the way I would like to, what all of you mean to me, or what your help has meant.

Somehow THANK YOU!, just does not seem to do it justice, but will have to suffice. I can only hope that you can feel the sincerity of it even thru' cyber space.

howyadoin
02-22-2008, 05:04 PM
I have found a joy in painting that I never thought was "out there", and I am revelling in it. It calms me, and brings me peace as well...I know exactly what you mean. It does me a lot of good, too.

JamieWG
02-22-2008, 06:26 PM
Susan, you are clearly an AMAZING woman! You must have the patience of a saint. I do understand jump-starting the process that way in order to get the painting part underway. You said you want to work on your drawing skills, and one of the things you may consider is keeping a sketchbook with you for those one-minute intervals of relative peace. Finding a block of time necessary to paint can be difficult, but we can sketch anything, anywhere, in just a few minutes. Separating the painting and sketching times may be the best way to get the process underway.

In the Artwork From Life forum, there are Scavenger Hunts posted every 8 days. Participants sketch from a list of 26 objects, from life, and post their sketches. It's a great way to jump in and work on drawing in a supportive atmosphere involving very little time. If you want to check it out, the latest Scavenger Hunt just started a few days ago and is posted here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=478516).

I find that if I paint when I have the time to do so, and sketch when I don't, I can keep the train moving forward. :)


Jamie

idylbrush
02-22-2008, 10:49 PM
Be careful in quoting Degas! He knew all about such things for sure. I love his paintings, but he'd have been no friend of mine. I'm not surprised by that quote.

Jamie

Each to their own gout.

tonyjazz
02-22-2008, 11:53 PM
What a great thread for discussion. Same thing happens when we talk about Bob Ross. "cheating"? How in the world can you "cheat" at painting? And who are you cheating? Yourself......? Tracing.......some great painters were "tracers". Did Michael Angelo's sock full of carbon with little holes to outline make hime a tracer and a cheat. Some of those artifacts can still be seen btw. Projectors......carbon paper......a ruler.......a brush....tools to be used by you as you see fit. Last time I checked there were no art police. I've seen websites that you send your ref pic and it gets printed on the canvas for you to paint. perfectimages.com I think it's called. Any artist can ruin a paint by numbers canvas and any artist can paint with just a brush and produce something spectacular. Elitism in art, as in music, has it's people who claim to be " purists ", no tracing, no projector, no carbon paper, no rulers, nothing.......just a brush and paint. Great, let them paint, just don't tell me how to play my song the way I want to and the way I hear it........TJ

Ms.Understood
02-23-2008, 02:48 AM
[quote=tonyjazz. Last time I checked there were no art police. [/quote]
That's a RELIEF!:lol: I've often worried.:confused: :eek:

Susan, the fact you have any time to take for yourself at all makes you sane and more beneficial to those who depend on you! Don't drive yourself batty with questioning your technique when the outcome is not only skill building, but self fulfilling also. Art is always controversial, but that is why it is such a creative outlet.

Do what you love, love what you do!:heart:

It has been very interesting to read every one's take on this topic. I would say I'm split down the middle, using photos to using sheer imagination, but even my imaginative images are based on some type of reference even just memory. Perhaps those with photographic memories don't need the 2-d version of reference...

Lulu
02-23-2008, 05:32 AM
Susan, you need a medal. Listen to you heart, follow it and enjoy the peace it brings.

susme48
02-23-2008, 11:55 PM
Jamie...if there is one thing I am not, it is amazing; I just do what has to be done, and do it to the best of my ability. I am not special in anyway, because there are millions of others out there who do the same kind of thing every day.

I do have a sketch book, and I sketch whenever I can....I keep one in the car...just in case and I have two in the house. If and when we go in the big truck with my hubby, on short trips...I sketch, or attempt to use colored pencils, which I have NO skill with...lol. I got some pastels and fixative to take with us next time, and we will see what happens with those. I do what I can, as often as I can. I just cannot schedule anything, because there is never a day or time that is the same.

Jenny...I imagine that there are many who might debate my sanity, on any given day...lol. But as I said...all I can do is try to do my best, and work with what I have to work with.

Lulu...no medals; but thanks.

To all who responded, I again offer my thanks...it gave me alot to think about.

DakotaPaint
02-25-2008, 01:14 AM
I'm just repeating what several have said, but for my two cents' worth...if it's your own photo or something for which you have permission to use, tracing for placement, using a grid to draw, whatever, they are all tools that many artists use. Not a question of ethics at all...just using the tools you have to do the best work you can!

Teresa

Rusla
02-25-2008, 01:46 AM
For me personally, I have to be able to draw it free hand. I believe I can never develope as an artist if I was to trace. I also use all my own photographs unless it is a picture of someone I could not get a photograph of personally, like Winston Churchill or something. Not only that but then I would have to fool around with blowing things up if I was to trace.
The only time I have used tracing and you have to is for putting your pattern onto leather or glass for stained glass.
But as for painting a picture I prefer to draw up my own. I have a sketch book in every room of my house and I always have one with me. Just my quirk.

Randi-Lee