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Old 04-18-2006, 10:55 PM
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klondikemike klondikemike is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

I once had an apportunity to visit one of my childhood art hero's studio while the man was away for the Winter (a friend was taking care of the guy's dogs and asked if I wanted to see his studio). This person was and is a very successful and popular regional artist who's work I'd admired for many years. And, since he's a popular regional artists in a state that gets a million or two souvenir buying tourists each year, he is nationally known by those who enjoy Alaskana.
Once inside the first thing that popped out at me was that, in his work area, there was an overhead projector dominating his workspace.
I was cresfallen, dejected, and smugly arrogant that he relied upon a projector to get his work up to a pretty realistic level.
I felt it was cheating (I was all of about 14 yearld old) and that it somehow devalued his work.
He was projecting photos he'd taken on his many (yearly) trips out into the Alaskan bush and tracing the images onto canvas before painting over them.
That being said, a couple of years later, I and the friend who had watched his dogs helped the artist unload one of his truckloads of prints & art books from his publisher.
It filled the back of a 40-foot trailer and tool all three of us most of the day to transfer it into storage.
Sometimes he needed a couple or more of those shipments a year to meet demand.
He's even more poplar now than way back then.
I don't use a projector in my work. I do use my own photos (and photos taken by my parents) as loose references.
And while I used to look down my nose at people who used projectors to help them, I no longer feel myself so superior to them.
If a projector helps you get the job done, and or helps insure that the artistic vision you saw in your head makes to the canvas, more power to you: project away.
I would be so lucky to sell even a tiny percentage of what that one artist sells each year thanks to his use of a projector and his determination to see his projects through to the end .
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Old 05-15-2006, 02:56 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

Do any of you know of a professional artist who will openly and honestly admit to using a projector to begin a work of art? I'm in limbo over this myself. It seems to me that tools such as projectors are meant to be used, but they must always be filtered through the talent of the painter. I think that a capable, trained artist could use a projector as a means to start a work of art without relying on it for the entire process. Actually, it seems that commercial artists regularly do this without blushing, and frankly I notice that an awful lot of the artists who win the BIG prizes at the magazine I work for (The Pastel Journal) were formerly commerical painters who finally made the big break into fine art. Is it possible that they derived a certain amount of experience and expertise from projecting things? Naturally, they also became expert as a result of practicing their craft, but why would learning how to portray something by tracing invalidate the experience? I don't deny that learning to see and draw freehand is valuable, my question is why the process of copying isn't part of that?

I suspect there are some fine artists who begin with a projector, but the stigma of being branded as therefore incapable of drawing is such that few are willing to admit it. That may be too bad, in some ways.

I teach a drawing class in which I include one exercise where I have my students trace the large contours of a photograph and then fill in the values. I give them a photo and have them tape it to the window, then place a piece of copy paper over the top and trace it. The paper is opaque enough that they can't trace a lot of details. It forces them to flip the paper up and down, which helps them see scale, translate color to value, and recognize that they have to consider every piece of the puzzle in order to draw it so that they all come together as one.

Why couldn't a pro use a system such as this to make a finished painting? Why would using a projector be seemingly such a SIN, as Schmid says?

Okay, having said that... I DID use a projector once for a painting. I had to do the wheels on a Porsche, which was at such an angle that my little under-trained brain could not seem to figure out the perspective. I slapped that photo into a projector I borrowed from an artist friend of mine and traced those wheels on my painting. Whew! What a relief! It looked fine, finally. I think it was very hard for me to believe what I saw, so that tracing it was the only way I could see it for what it was. Isn't this valid?

Deborah
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Old 05-15-2006, 05:02 PM
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nancy_ellen56 nancy_ellen56 is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

A lot of people use projectors and graphs and measurements and other tools to get the job done...will they admit it...no most won't...why..because then the general public would not think as highly of their work and would form the conception oh well I could do that too...I started out trying everything free handed and like you was disappointed when I learned that a lot I admired was using aides...I still try freehanded and my art is improving but I will admit the one that I used an overhead on is really the best I have done...so it all comes down to the bottom line..money and production...want to make a living at this...do what ever it takes...save the creativity for relaxation...I admire the street artist as you can watch them whip out their not so perfect paintings and sketches, and no one has to wonder if they used a projector or not...teach your students all the tricks of the trade and let each pave his own path to get the job done...
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Old 05-28-2006, 03:54 PM
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WRoget WRoget is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

TamaJohn

You really opened the can of worms!

This is a subject that has triggered many a heated thread. There are many factors to keep in mind, here are a few that struck me:

First off - people's opinions come with built in agenda's - some good, some not so good. Without deciding anything about anyone's thoughts in particular, including mine, just always consider - is the opinion being presented with your best interest at heart? Do they even know what is in your best interest? Can they? People may opine in a way that supports some other preference or bias - either for studio work, or for plein air, for oils or acrylics, for landscapes or still lifes, for saleability or for shock or for iconoclast-ness, for example. Which would be more valid for you?

Second - one person's experience is not automatically and intrinsically definitive, communicable, relevant or representative of or to anyone else's, much less everyone else's, experience. The pitfalls that one person experiences with a method, tool, technique, style, approach - may not ever manifest for you, and vice versa.

Third - all techniques, tools, methods, styles, everything in the known universe - are imperfect. The Venetian method has produced some amazing works of art, and some truly hideous wastes of canvas and pigment. Same with plein air, with abstract, impressionism, cubism, oil painting, acrylics, printmaking, sculpting, etc. If someone delineates a list of flaws in using a projector, for example, don't forget that other methods have their own shortcomings. If someone delineates a list of problems in working from photo's - working from real life has a similar, overlapping list of vision related obstacles, flaws, issues, concerns. And so on, for just about everything.

Fourth - absolutism is a usually a very bad sign. There is just too much variety within human beings, particularly artists, for some tool to always be bad for everyone all the time. Be wary, as well, of summary dismissals and slippery slope arguments that attempt to conclude in advance things that cannot be known in advance, and cannot be true for absolutely everyone anyways. Projectors as a sin? - maybe for some people, if it would limit their flexibility, but not if it becomes the foundation for someone to be more flexible and inventive. Use of projector = poor drawing skills? Again, maybe for some people - but not for everyone. The two tools are not intrinsically antagonistic. Projectors can be a crutch, but using one will not erase from your brain and hands x years of sketching and drawing practice, or innate hand eye coordination. Could even be a method for people with undeveloped hand-eye coordination to develop and practice it, so that when they do sketch directly from life, the results are encouraging rather than frustrating. Sketching can become a crutch, only drawing from photos can be a crutch, so can only working from real life.

But when someone uses languages that denigrates anyone who doesn't do it his way (like the word 'sin') - something is more than a little wrong. That becomes a message of control, dominance, and you should generally question why anyone who appears to want to exert control over your art, your expression of yourself.


My agenda, position, stake - I'm an enthusiastic fan of the uniqueness of human individuality - that six billion plus people alive today each have different experiences, different things to communicate, to care about, to want and need, as well as commonalities we know about, commonalities we don't see, and commonalities we take for granted. So, I'm quite openly encouraging you to be as uniquely yourself in your art as your genes are in defining your physicality.

Sometimes I use a projector, sometimes I use a grid or redraw from scratch, sometimes I don't use any guide lines on the canvas at all - all dependent on what I want to accomplish, what mood I'm in at the time, and what I want to communicate. Take that for what it is - a description of what works for me now, that may or may not work for you or anyone else, that doesn't have to work for anyone else as long as it works for me. And your method doesn't have to have any value for anyone else, as long as it works for you. It could even be - horror - The Really Big Sin! to someone else. So? Bet if you looked closely enough, you'd find that person doing something you considered a really big art sin, too.
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Old 06-15-2006, 04:06 PM
Granby Granby is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

I'm going to start using a projector to scale up my own drawings. For one, I tend to get obsessed with things - and by the time I have a drawing I want to paint there is no way I'm going to try and draw it again. Plus, by the time I'm finished with it I have become personallly involved with it - and the minor changes that come with trying to redraw it always irritate me incredibly. I may even try to use one of the image transfer heat tools with a lazer printer/copier: Scan my drawing, Lazer print it, then transfer.

I'm trying to learn to paint and having a heck of a time even getting started - I just want to get my drawing on the canvas quick and easy.

Does anybody else hate carbon and tracing paper - I swear the image transfer is horrible. (Maybe because I tend to draw small with lots of detail.)

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 06-16-2006, 09:23 PM
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denis44 denis44 is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

Hi, having used projectors, I'd like to weigh in here too.

I started using a projector in the early 70's, despite my trained ability to draw with extreme accuracy otherwise. I worked as a professional artist for almost 20 years this way and sans any withdrawal symptoms when I stopped using it (actually stopped painting for another 20).

Used to meet weekly in the city with all the known photorealists of the day, pearlstein, estes, etc. who used to sit around arguing the same stuff, ad nauseum. Its all good, provided that there is an artist standing in the lightpath to begin with.

Almost every known photorealist uses some mechanical means to transfer an image to a canvas, otherwise their work would lack certain camera induced qualities and be more imaginative in scope. Photorealism is not in the same school of art as any other form of realism, in my opinion. It is a post pop art movement, and relies upon a photographic quality to work.

What separates the wheat from the chaff is the ability to make educated drawing and creative painting decisions in the midst of painting, and many so-called photorealists out there show their lack of drawing acumen and compositional knowhow.

My recent work (after my 20+ year layoff) relies more on good drawing skills than painting acuities, (I don't project, as it seems to be more of an impediment than a facilitator, this time around) and each piece is meticulously done purely in reliance on solid drawing, use of color, shade and lighting. I now pin up numerous sections of the photo and work in glazes to get a consistent appearance of a simulation of reality - a representation (figuratively speaking) of a representation (literally speaking) - hence, hyperreality. (I also occasionally take sneak looks back at the computer screen to check out real detailed closeups, i.e. the eyes, etc.)

I love painting and hope it shows. Fun thread here and enjoyed all the above comments.

Thanks for the rant space,
Denis Peterson
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Old 06-19-2006, 01:38 PM
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deadsam deadsam is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

I dont use a projector, but I do sketch on papaer to fit my finished work first, and get my cartoon of it out on paper first. I used to draw right on the finished paper and sometimes I just start painting on it without any sketches at all, but for alot of deatiled ones, I will work a cartton outline of it on paper first, then when I outline the sketch, I transfer it over the finished paper to paint, htis way it makes nice crisp clean lines for me to work with instead of lots of scribbles and erasing. To me I don't find an issue with that, cause its my sketch from start to finish, I just have a thing for starting a painting with clean lines to work with. but I do understand where your coming from with grids and projectors, it can lessen your talent alot if that is all you do, and I have seen this happen with other artist, they used to be able to draw, but then they grid so much and for long, they forget the basic porportions, and perspective techniques and it takes them abit to get it back. plus it can destroy a persons personal style after awhile also.
But for me in high detailed stuff, yuppers I do work it out on paper first thentransfer it over, personally I don't see a problem with it at all
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:45 AM
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Re: Using Projectors

Sam, isn't it interesting when doing a pencil drawing, everyone just goes at it on paper w/o any mechanical methods of image transfer, projection, grids, etc. Yet when the paintbox gets opened, things change and all bets are off. Interesting phenomenon.

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Old 06-28-2006, 03:43 PM
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Brandt Sponseller Brandt Sponseller is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leschi Painter
With all due respect and friendliness, I have to disagree strongly with the posts against using projectors . . .
I agree with everything you say in your post, including that it can help you learn how to draw rather than detract from that.

I think it comes down to why you're doing the art you're doing--what your goals are. If the finished product is what's primarily important to you, and you're not going to have to be performing for others or perhaps teaching others a wide variety of skills, then I can't see any problem with using any tool you want to use that enables you to get the finished work exactly how you want it.

But if you're just as concerned with the processes in something of a purist way, or you want to perform for others or impress them with your traditional abilities, then it's best that you don't rely on tools like projectors. Or at least be able to perform as well without them.

For me, I've used projectors, and have nothing against it, but it's not something I use very often . . . primarily because I don't usually want my work to look just like a photo, or be proportioned precisely realistically or have precise, realistic perspective and so on. Although I've never been able to get precise realism with a projector, either, lol--it's not that easy to get the projected image to not have distortions, to square it with your canvas just right, to trace it "exactly", to retain your "exact" trace, etc. But I find it's easier to get the kinds of distortions that I like by drawing freehand. However, if I were primarily concerned with doing photorealistic works, I'd probably use a projector and practice mastering the mechanics of doing so. Also, keep in mind that some millionaire fine artists, like David Hockney, regularly use projectors and are up front about that--so it's not as if it's completely taboo in the artworld.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:53 AM
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aRt4us aRt4us is online now
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Re: Using Projectors

John, what a great debate you sparked off. Love it.

In the evolution of things there is no BLACK or WHITE here, there are loads of greys. Free hand drawing, is my only way now because I can do the work faster than grid or projector set up, plus it make me feel the images I produce are 100% mine. I must admit I felt anything less than free hand was cheating a bit, but for an aid to learning I used it. So if you can draw free hand do, if not use than artificial ruler until you’re confident to throw it away.

I can cook really well, but sometimes that microwave is much faster.

Draw that straight line fast any slower and its wonky. (confidence)
Gary
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Old 07-03-2006, 09:03 PM
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TamaJohn TamaJohn is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

Yes i have gained some good insight on both sides of the arguement and will no longer question the use of any tool at my disposal in the pursuit of my art.
I don't think there is a definitive answer , it's just whatever works for you, do it, and as long as you are striving to be the best artist or whatever you are trying to be, how can you be faulted for wanting to try everything at your disposal... you can't...
John
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Old 07-04-2006, 06:38 PM
tinaweha tinaweha is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

I use a projector. I have done artwork without it, as well...though it IS a different style because I am forced to improvise more. I have sold paintings and people love my colors. I am an artist. I don't care what people say. I believe that the reason I have difficulty mapping out my (fairly) large canvases (3'x4' to 3'x9') is that my parents never got me glasses until I was thirteen y/o. I believe that this has somehow changed my brain pathways to see mostly colors rather than shapes...though I have glasses/contacts now. I STILL have a difficult time focusing far then near and back again...though I CAN! It is just quite difficult and time-consuming and tedious and I lose my ideas and spontanaeity. I AM A COLORIST. I have maps on my canvases. I project maps on my canvases...though I don't necessarily follow them. My paintings look nothing like the photo...well...they do actually look like the photo only it is more fauvist/wild/beautiful than the photo. I use fairly large strokes of acrylic and I am always experimenting with things in order to claim my own style. I CAN DRAW IN AN ECLECTIC-ECCENTRIC STYLE...VERY STYLIZED, though I have great difficulty making the proportions exact....and I took a class in perspective once and I thought that this must be what hell is. If I use a projector and I come up with something that people think is art...and I am not trying to make an exact replica of something...but I am trying to make a symbol of something...am I less of an artist? I think that people who say you must DRAW are people who are naturally good at drawing. I learned to see colors not objects as a child. That is my medium. That is my life. Put on your friend's glasses some day and try to draw an object accross the room and then tell me that a projectors are inherently "sinful". If a painting has meaning to the artist, then I believe that it is art.
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Old 07-04-2006, 07:39 PM
tinaweha tinaweha is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

PS I also have difficulty drawing an image when I am on a small canvas. I can make cool drawings that I like and other artists like, however...we are talking about "interesting" drawings rather than "realistic" drawings.

Drawing and painting are separate issues to my small brain. To me drawing is like riding a horse and painting is like riding a bike...or something like that...maybe tomorrow I will use different metaphors...

Try this: I can drive a car, but I can't fix the engine. Does that mean I can't drive? Well, if you consider driving to be like painting and consider fixing the engine to be like drawing, then you see my dilemna with trying to explain my thoughts on this subject.

By the way, kiddies, I really feel free having contributed my words to this forum...even if I am the only person who reads my words! I suppose this is what gays feel when they come out of the closet... yeah baby!
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Old 07-04-2006, 09:54 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

I have to tell you all that I recently wrote an article for The Artist's Magazine (which was assigned to me) titled: Projection: Is It Art? I struggled with it but it ended up being interesting to write. Here's the opening paragraph to a sidebar I wrote:

In the distant past someone must have picked up a feather and discovered the expressive freedom of using a new tool to create a painting on a cave wall. Do you suppose the artist was criticized for relying on new equipment to do what only the hand had done before? Technology seems always to have been suspect in the creative process, as if using a tool somehow violates the intrinsic humanness of artmaking. Yet such things have no doubt been put to use by artists in every era, precisely because of the human proclivity to invent and use tools.

I interviewed three artists, one who uses projection to record the lines in a complex still life and paints over that, one who uses a projector as an inspirational tool occasionally in some very experiemental ways, and one who eschews the use of projection personally but acknowledges that it can be used with skill like any other tool. I want to thank those of you who contributed here for your input, too, even if you didn't know you were involved! I found some very interesting points made here, and elsewhere on WC, and wrote around them, to some degree.

BTW, tinaweha, if you think posting on a forum such as this one is like coming out of the closet, you should try writing for a magazine! Yee haw!

Deborah
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Old 07-05-2006, 10:58 AM
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meowmeow meowmeow is offline
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Re: Using Projectors

There is an artist in the little group I am involved with here in Maine. He calls himself a "professional artist" and in fact sells tons more than anyone else in the group. He has a huge quantity of prints made, he is in several galleries and wins frequent prizes. From what I understand (and to be honest, I have not seen it) he uses the projector for the entire process...drawing and while he is painting so he can get the colors "right"...honestly there is something odd about his work. At first glance they are incredibly realistic paintings. ON looking closer there is something odd about them...the color is a bit off sometimes. He cannot draw hands to save his life...and tracing hands when you don't know what you are doing...well...you can imagine.
It does bother me, but I understand what had been said here and on some level I know he has the right to do this. It does not seem right, however, when he is exhibiting in the same show and me and a judge who is paid to judge the show, comes through and judges his by the same standards as mine, which are all drawn by hand and painted using the colors I feel will work rather than how some photographer did it. It is very frustrating. It's also interesting because some judges give him first place and others just glance at his booth...which is true of any judging situation but I think some judges can see clearly how he is doing his work. I understand the general public doesn't see it, but I think people who really know their art will recognic the stiltedness of this work.
Anyhow, that's my feeling!

Sandy
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