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Old 12-07-2017, 10:02 AM
Clotmonet Clotmonet is offline
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Better than life

One frequently hears the advice "Paint what you see". Monet gave this advice:

When you go out to paint try to forget what object you have before you - a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact colour and shape, until it emerges as your own naive impression of the scene before you.

But the results are not a high level of realism. If one could follow Monet's advice rigorously, the result would as accurate and insipid as any snapshot. The light would be awfully flawed, and like much camera work it would be either deathly flat or horribly uneven. Photographers go to great lengths to eliminate or avoid these flaws in nature.

Painters go farther. A Monet landscape is a highly idealized thing. The light effects are exaggerated as he tries to make visible to all viewers what, or more accurately, how the painter has seen. He pays little attention to the form of the water in a seascape, but takes infinite pains to catch how light reflects from the surface. He does all sorts of things to the objective thing before him, he makes numerous improvements. The result is a highly modified view. So I must conclude that Monet emphatically did not paint what he saw, in spite of the fact that he seemed to believe he did!

Similar arguments apply to many styles and painters. So why do people keep repeating "Paint what you see"? Only the hyper-realists should say such things, it's what you would expect to hear in the very Paris salons and academies that rejected Monet for so long!
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Old 12-07-2017, 12:52 PM
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Re: Better than life

'paint what you see' is still good advise and one of the greatest beauties of artists is that they all see a little bit differently. be bloody boring otherwise, right.

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Old 12-07-2017, 01:01 PM
ianuk ianuk is offline
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Re: Better than life

It is necessary to mark the greater from the lesser truth: namely the larger and more liberal idea of nature from the comparatively narrow and confined; namely that which addresses itself to the imagination from that which is solely addressed to the eye.

J. M. W Turner.
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Old 12-07-2017, 02:24 PM
Clotmonet Clotmonet is offline
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Re: Better than life

Quote:
Originally Posted by La_
'paint what you see' is still good advise and one of the greatest beauties of artists is that they all see a little bit differently. be bloody boring otherwise, right.

la


Yup, just look at what happens when a class paints the same object. Ross saw happy trees, happy cabins, happy everything and it did come through in his work. I suspect that even if he painted plein air the mood would not change much.

There's more than one way to paint a cat. (No, dunking doesn't count.)

What concerns me is that following the advice to paint what you see could suppress any individuality a painter has.
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Old 12-07-2017, 04:24 PM
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Re: Better than life

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clotmonet
Yup, just look at what happens when a class paints the same object. Ross saw happy trees, happy cabins, happy everything and it did come through in his work. I suspect that even if he painted plein air the mood would not change much.

There's more than one way to paint a cat. (No, dunking doesn't count.)

What concerns me is that following the advice to paint what you see could suppress any individuality a painter has.

kind of contradicting yourself there aintcha?

I, me and me alone comes out in any work i do, whether using imagination, copy, trace, life, still life, abstract, it matters not, it's my style of applying paint, seeing, editing, fudging, whatever.

don't worry, be happy, paint

la
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Last edited by La_ : 12-07-2017 at 04:28 PM. Reason: s
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Old 12-07-2017, 04:26 PM
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Re: Better than life

also, i'd bet money that 'bob' painting more than what was seen on his shows. like kinkade, he found a market and fed off it.

la
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:15 PM
DaveCrow DaveCrow is offline
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Re: Better than life

Charles Reid offered a book titled "Painting What You *Want* to See".

We are often told to simplify shapes and values, emphasize composition, exagerate colour. But, we need to see these in our subject in order to exagerate them.

We do not all see the world the same way.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:21 PM
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Re: Better than life

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clotmonet
But the results are not a high level of realism. If one could follow Monet's advice rigorously, the result would as accurate and insipid as any snapshot. The light would be awfully flawed, and like much camera work it would be either deathly flat or horribly uneven.

Not necessarily, because the human eye does not see in the same way as the camera's eye, and because it isn't really possible to follow Monet's advice, however hard you may try - no one will see in a completely objective way. Something of yourself will inevitably slip in.
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:01 PM
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Re: Better than life

Paint what you see has some interesting nuances.

If you're outside looking at nature, you'll see whatever your focal point is in very fine detail. Everything else blurs out and is less important. But while painting, you look at everything that's within your crop, your frame of the painting... and then it's easy to get an amateurish over detailed and flattened painting, because the whole thing is in high relief. All those tricks of composition and softening edges and muting are to try to express what you see and guide the viewer's eye to share your emotional experience.

You know you're getting it right when a painting of a scene from a photo reference in a state you've never been starts hitting guys in the gut: "Hey, I used to go fishing there, in (another state, different one for each guy), you captured it so perfectly."

But the good thing in paint what you see is that drawing and painting from life is something to keep coming back to. It's very easy to fall into imitating other artists' stylizations and take those for reality, instead of looking at the objects for yourself. So I still do it. I just get better at deciding what to put in or not as I work on it.
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:38 PM
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MarialenaS MarialenaS is offline
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Re: Better than life

I don't pay any attention on what each and every fellow artist says because each and everyone talks from his or her own point of view, experience and technique that s/he favors, that in most of the cases, isn't compatible or is impossible to be applied on my own style and technique.
I think that painting is a very personal matter. It is all about you and your artwork made in the technique that you are favoring the most. Not you and the artwork made from somebody else's point of view with his or her technique.
Monet or Reid ( or anybody else of course) and you and me, we are all completely different persons and personalities and artists on all levels.

And to tell you the truth I don't think that even the best teachers are able to tell you what is going on in their mind when they are painting. They are trying to describe you a process that is taking place in the deeper levels of their mind, that are part of their own unique personality.

So Monet's explanation of what he was doing, can't be planted on my own mind because I am Marialena and he was Claude. I'm a woman and he was a man, I'm living on 2017 and he died on 1926, he was French I am Greek etc etc etc in other words between my mentality and his mentality there is a huge gap between mental, cultural, life style etc backgrounds.

As for me, I'm painting what I WANT to see, but in the way actually is. So I paint realistically my ideal version of things.

Last edited by MarialenaS : 12-07-2017 at 11:41 PM.
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Old 12-08-2017, 10:19 AM
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Re: Better than life

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clotmonet
Painters go farther. A Monet landscape is a highly idealized thing. The light effects are exaggerated as he tries to make visible to all viewers what, or more accurately, how the painter has seen. He pays little attention to the form of the water in a seascape, but takes infinite pains to catch how light reflects from the surface. He does all sorts of things to the objective thing before him, he makes numerous improvements. The result is a highly modified view. So I must conclude that Monet emphatically did not paint what he saw, in spite of the fact that he seemed to believe he did!

Monet painted what he saw. He did it as well as he could with the feeble instruments at hand. Paint is not light or leaves or water. And something else I've come to realise, after years of painting on the spot, day after day -- I do see differently than other people. I look at a landscape differently. You can call it a translation if you like but I don't doubt that Monet painted what he saw.
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Old 12-09-2017, 09:47 AM
Clotmonet Clotmonet is offline
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Re: Better than life

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kind of contradicting yourself there aintcha?

I don't think so. In my view, the diversity of a class all painting the same subjects happens precisely because they don't paint what they see. If they did paint what they saw, the result would be 30 near identical paintings.

Human vision is fairly well standardized, you might get some variation due to color perception or cataracts or something...

Did I miss something there?
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Old 12-09-2017, 10:06 AM
Clotmonet Clotmonet is offline
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Re: Better than life

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Monet painted what he saw. He did it as well as he could with the feeble instruments at hand. Paint is not light or leaves or water. And something else I've come to realise, after years of painting on the spot, day after day -- I do see differently than other people. I look at a landscape differently. You can call it a translation if you like but I don't doubt that Monet painted what he saw.

No doubt he was guided by what he saw. His earlier work was much more photorealistic than his later work. Just compare "Woman in a Green Dress" with one of the haystack series. Isn't the degree to which he departed from painting what he saw obvious? I think he got a bit bored with painting what he saw and went beyond it. He painted what he imagined more than what he saw.

Interesting viewpoint you have there, though. Maybe you could expand on it a bit, see where it goes.
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Old 12-09-2017, 11:24 AM
ianuk ianuk is offline
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Re: Better than life

This assumes that artists paint in the same style all the time. Painting what one sees in whatever style they choose would perhaps be more apt. At times I paint realism. Other times I paint impressionism and others abstract. Sometimes I paint rubbish too which is not discernable as any genre.
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Old 12-09-2017, 11:41 AM
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Re: Better than life

I had a friend in Chicago in the 1980s who did the most beautiful impressionist renderings of everything she drew and painted. Very colorful and saturated, but loose and powerful with visible strokes and an amazing awareness of light and color. Eventually at one of our art group meetings she mentioned that she was legally blind. She literally saw the world like that, loose masses of light and color. Undistracted by detail, she created the paintings that others have to learn to loosen up to do.

I think there's value in other artists' ideas and thoughts while painting. The fun thing is that my interpretation of those may not be the same as what they meant. As a child I had an art teacher who was constantly saying "Do what you like" and "Paint what you feel" and so on. I wound up painting delicate realistic renderings of things I liked, anything from fossils and skulls to various medieval and fantasy motifs because those were the things I liked. I was into swords and skulls and dragons. The teacher was into abstract expressionism - but a good enough teacher to see what I was doing and encourage me.

Later on I ran into teachers who had the same personal style and when they said "paint what you want" they meant "paint what I like within the terms of this movement and rave about it."

I've also had bad eyesight all my life, and recently discovered that my color vision is muted in one eye (the one I can read more clearly with), while brighter and more intense in the blurry one. My mind puts them together, but that may produce a very different effect than someone who has good color vision in both eyes and good focus vision (rods and cones) in both eyes. We are all different and sometimes physicality can make that very dramatic.
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Last edited by robertsloan2 : 12-09-2017 at 11:47 AM.
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