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Old 03-10-2014, 02:11 PM
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Folio Folio is offline
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

One thing that is unique to each of us as artists is our vision. Each artist sees in his or her own unique way. In a sense, using photographs is giving up that advantage that you have and handing it over to the camera, a form of abdication. There's a place for cameras and photos but to my mind preferably not until one is quite far along with one's studies and has developed an eye for proportion, perspective, placement, rightness and wrongness and all those things that drive us crazy. It's more worthwhile to nurture one's own vision and to make unique personal work than to make perfect copies of photographs. Some of Vincent's portrait drawings were skewed, and even Rembrandt's in at least one etching I've seen in a book. There's even a Michelangelo portrait drawing where the nose is too long (IMO!!!). We're not trying to make photographs, if we were we might as well buy a camera. I know quite a few photographers who took up photography because they couldn't draw. I can understand that but give me some messy paint and charcoal and a wide horizon any day.
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Old 03-10-2014, 02:27 PM
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrushBeater
The best training i've had for improving my accuracy is simply for the instructor to show me exactly what is off and where each incorrect line should be (even if its off by only a small amount) and then I can see it myself, which is an eye opening experience (literally). Or for the instructor to get me to find the inaccuracy and exactly where it should be by coaching me with yes and no answers until I discover it.

Alas, that kind of instructor seems not to exist here in Dark Africa. :-)

Quote:
One instructor told me something to the extent of "When I tell you something is wrong its ok if you can not identify where the problem is and how to fix it, as long as you can recognize that there IS a problem, narrowing in on it can be improved with practice. If however you can not recognize that there is an inaccuracy at all, then you are in trouble."

Well, this is one reason why drawing portraits is a good idea, because it is usually possible to see whether you achieved a likeness or not. I find, however, that now and then I run into a situation where I failed to achieve a likeness, and cannot for the life of me work out why, or what it is that is wrong. Usually the mouth! I erase and redraw it as many times as the paper will stand, and end up redrawing it exactly the same wrong way over and over. :-)

At other times, especially when drawing someone unfamiliar form a photo, I find it extremely difficult to decide whether I achieved a likeness or not. If it is a well known face, someone known to me or a well known celebrity, this is less of a problem.
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Old 03-10-2014, 02:29 PM
Red 9 Red 9 is offline
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Tracing is not cheating IMO. All that does is give you an outline, you still have to know how to shape the forms, lighting, color, etc,. All tracing does is speed up the process...and that's never a negative thing.

To me, what IS cheating, mostly happens in digital art. When somebody simply lays down a photo and "paints" on top of it and then claims the image was created in a traditional process. It's so very easy to spot...yet people still do it and try to lie about their process.
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Old 03-10-2014, 02:31 PM
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidPriestley
No, that's a 'trade secret'.
So long as the artist hasn't actualy said that it was all done freehand, then the only deception involved is the one the viewer has placed upon themselves by assuming to know how it was done.
In any other situation, it would be sneaky and dishonest.

He bought a frozen meal and prepared it as if it were home-cooked. The guests rave about the recipe and the effort it took to make it. He smiles and says "Thank you."

The guests later find out he got it frozen and heated it up. They think he's dishonest, because he is. That's why they call it lying by omission.

If they ask you how you do it and you leave out parts, that's your decision. If you show a step-by-step but leave out the first part ("I project and trace over a photo") that's perhaps no one's business. (If you want to think of it that way, though I think that artists who selectively take out the "I trace it" part are doing so because they know it might put them in an unfavorable light with some people.)

But, not mentioning when no one asks or mentions it first is fair enough. Not everyone cares or would notice either way.

But when they are pointed and specific in their praise for drawing, or it's so obvious in how they phrase their compliments "I couldn't draw a straight line! That's amazing! You're so talented!" and you smile and say nothing, or you thank them, even though cannot draw, then you are willfully deceiving them. When or if they find out later, they'll feel you are deceptive. Because you are.
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Old 03-10-2014, 02:36 PM
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidPriestley
Yes he did, he used a mirror. We might not think of a mirror as an aid to self-portraiture today but that's essentially what it was used as by Rembrandt.
And I'm sure he didn't lie about it and say he didn't use a mirror! I'm sure we all know that he used a mirror. It's no "secret."

THAT'S the point! Not that a tool is used, but if an artist lies about it (directly or through omission) in order to appear to have a skill that they don't have.

Now if an artist wants to experiment with new, unheard of inventions and keep them a secret, we all can understand. But if they're going to use tried-and-true shortcuts and pretend they didn't in order to appear to have a skill that they don't have, then it's just going to look dishonest to everybody else.

Adding this from Brian:
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianvds
I don't mind at all when others do, but as Mariposa pointed out, many of them get terribly defensive about it and are almost desperate to convince me Vermeer also did it and couldn't possibly have painted so well without his camera obscura.

You're not the only one who noticed this?

Last edited by mariposa-art : 03-10-2014 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 03-10-2014, 02:47 PM
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Interesting discussion. I hope more people respond.
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Old 03-10-2014, 02:56 PM
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Use Her Name
I actually believe that if an artist is asked, without any technical crutches, to draw a picture, then that picture should come out somewhat like the pictures they present to galleries. I think it is laughable and would be embarrassing to find your favorite artist could not even draw, let alone make an image like the one he or she presents as his or her own work.
This is a good point.

Imagine having a "fanbase" (or what have you) of collectors or admirers and they expect you to draw or paint something in front of them, expecting something nice-looking (because they've seen your studio work) and all you can produce is this abysmal, lopsided, horrible mess? How embarrassing that would be.

I see artist's works done in the studio, presumably using photo references and with plenty of time to work out the colors, and then these same artists working from life with a time limit . . . the drawings sometimes are abysmal, almost comically bad. (And I add, I was one of them too, when I first started drawing from life! Horribly bad, shockingly bad! Photos are a terrible crutch, you are right!) But there's no shame in it, long-term, if they propose to do something about it and improve their skills. It's NEVER too late to start improving on that aspect of their work.

But it is a shock to see how much different an artist's "on the fly, from life, no aids" artwork can be, compared to how it is when they can take their time and do it all very carefully in the studio. My own personal dream is that there won't be any difference in quality between studio work and life work.

And responding to Folio:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Folio
In a sense, using photographs is giving up that advantage that you have and handing it over to the camera, a form of abdication. There's a place for cameras and photos but to my mind preferably not until one is quite far along with one's studies and has developed an eye for proportion, perspective, placement, rightness and wrongness and all those things that drive us crazy.
I know what you mean. I've been working from life a lot, much more frequently then I have ever before in my life, and it's been astonishing. I "thought" I understood the difference between life and photos as reference before, and in a way I did understand some of it, but not all of it. And I know I still don't "get" most of it.

I will start to paint a subject from life and when the session is over, I photo the model so I can finish up the painting in the studio. What I see in the photo I took is that the person looks different than that model I painted for several hours from life. Their color is different. Values are flattened. The details that I "filtered" out (because they didn't matter!) are there in stunning clarity, and competing for attention (details like pimples, small wrinkles, and so forth). Details that don't make the likeness are there in vivid clarity and I can't filter them out as easily as I could when I was looking at the model in front of me.

I still have a lot of learning to do and a lot of improving, but I love working from life and as I mentioned yesterday, if I didn't have fair-to-middling drawing skills, I couldn't do it. And I would have missed out. But that's just me! As long as everyone isn't deliberately deceptive, they can do what they want. Everybody's different and their motivations and priorities will be different.
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:06 PM
AllisonR AllisonR is offline
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariposa-art
I study a lot from life, do a lot of artwork from life as well as painting from life, have been studying with a wonderful teacher, and WOW is there a difference between using a photo for reference and from life. (The colors alone—wow, what a difference!) So yeah, it makes a difference, a big difference, and if my drawing skills weren't at least fair to middling, I couldn't work from life. I would hate to miss out on the experience. (Not that I think working from a photo is bad, I do a lot of that too, but the ability to draw freehand and avail myself of live models and life in general . . . it's a wonderful thing. )

Yes, and no.

Skill is admired, will always be admired, and you can't eradicate that from human nature.

It IS ignorance if someone thinks that because an artist traced (they cannot draw freehand) that it cancels out all the rest of the work. There's a lot more to art than just the ability to lay down accurate contours and lines on a paper and canvas. However, drawing ability is a skill, it takes time to acquire, and it's worth it, for no other reason than it allows you to work from life! So it's a big deal. And I won't dismiss others who think it's a big deal too. But no, I would never dismiss an artist who wasn't able to do it either. Because art IS so much more than one single skill.

I don't think this can be overstated. Drawing and painting freehand, and from life, is as different from tracing or projecting a photo as jazz is from an opera. I venture to say the only ones who think they are the same or comparable are ones that have never spent all the time needed to REALLY try both, and therefore SEE the difference. If you had never heard jazz before, perhaps you could guess its similarities from having seen and heard an opera. But you won't really make a fair judgement of jazz until you have the opportunity to hear it, and more than once. If one thinks there is no difference in a drawing or painting, that has been projected and/or traced, compared to a drawing or painting that has been made freehand, then one is not really able to SEE. This is not a judgement on better or worse, superior or inferior, but it is very clearly very different. As different as jazz and opera.
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:08 PM
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

I don't believe using tools to accelerate the process is cheating, but it can be dishonest in certain instances as Mariposa points out. However, I feel if an artist can produce a worthy piece ONLY by using a shortcut type tool such as tracing then he/she has cheated him/herself by not learning how to draw and is also fundamentally handicapped. For instance that artist can never do a live demonstration from life as has also been pointed out by Mariposa.

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Old 03-10-2014, 03:19 PM
AllisonR AllisonR is offline
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by john
How to make your own Vermeer....

http://www.studio360.org/story/diy-vermeer/


Assuming this is true, was Vermeer a cheat? Or maybe just very clever. Like an illusionist.

Sorry, this was just silly. Did you look t Jims copy - it is nothing like the original, stiff, photographic, tight.

Vermeer used string connected to a tack for perspective in his paintings. In almost all of his paintings there is a hole exactly at the vanishing point, the string was then pulled to make the lines for all the perspective, tiles, windows… He probably had access to a camera obscura as well, though if you have ever made and used one, you will find it isn't sharp like a modern camera lens.
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:26 PM
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

as long as you arent copying another persons work and calling it your own.
everything else is just aids, and speeds things up.
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:40 PM
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonR
If one thinks there is no difference in a drawing or painting, that has been projected and/or traced, compared to a drawing or painting that has been made freehand, then one is not really able to SEE. This is not a judgement on better or worse, superior or inferior, but it is very clearly very different. As different as jazz and opera.


I always thought I "knew," and in a way I did, because straight out of high school I started life drawing, so I've had years of working from life. But when you add color (like painting from life) there's a difference there too! There is so much there, you think you know, but sometimes you don't.

One difference I noticed early (just from figure drawing and occasional pencil portraits from life) is that there's a "connection" with the model when they're sitting in front of you (even if they're a stranger) that is not present when using a photo reference. There's this whole atmosphere in the room as you draw, the feel ... that's all absent when working from a flat, 2-D photo.

Now working from life (painting) and looking at the color, really looking—it is so different than a photo. There are a lot of colors lost in the photo, obscured by shadow, flat, less vibrant, less subtle . . .

Blah blah blah! I go on and on! Anyway, it's very different. A semester or two of figure drawing in college might not be enough to comprehend many of the differences. I've been going to life drawing sessions (off and on) for ages, but until I started doing a lot of PAINTING did I really "get" some of the differences. And I'm sure there's much more there to see.

And responding to David:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Davkin
However, I feel if an artist can produce a worthy piece ONLY by using a shortcut type tool such as tracing then he/she has cheated him/herself by not learning how to draw and is also fundamentally handicapped. For instance that artist can never do a live demonstration from life as has also been pointed out by Mariposa.
Yes, it can be embarrassing.

Now again, if the artist is honest and upfront and never tries to pretend, then who cares? If they can't draw and must use aids, and no one is assuming otherwise, then there is nothing to be ashamed of. No "secret" that is threatening to come out.

But the problem is when they do try to hide it, let people assume they can draw it all freehand, and then eventually the truth is revealed.

They cannot do live demos. If they're invited to a life drawing or live model painting group, they can't go. To do so would expose their lack of skill. Keeping that kind of secret—wouldn't it get a bit exhausting after a while?

Last edited by mariposa-art : 03-10-2014 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:59 PM
DebbieO DebbieO is offline
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mariposa-art


I always thought I "knew," and in a way I did, because straight out of high school I started life drawing, so I've had years of working from life. But when you add color (like painting from life) there's a difference there too! There is so much there, you think you know, but sometimes you don't.

One difference I noticed early (just from figure drawing and occasional pencil portraits from life) is that there's a "connection" with the model when they're sitting in front of you (even if they're a stranger) that is not present when using a photo reference. There's this whole atmosphere in the room as you draw, the feel ... that's all absent when working from a flat, 2-D photo.

Now working from life (painting) and looking at the color, really looking—it is so different than a photo. There are a lot of colors lost in the photo, obscured by shadow, flat, less vibrant, less subtle . . .

Blah blah blah! I go on and on! Anyway, it's very different. A semester or two of figure drawing in college might not be enough to comprehend many of the differences. I've been going to life drawing sessions (off and on) for ages, but until I started doing a lot of PAINTING did I really "get" some of the differences. And I'm sure there's much more there to see.

And responding to David:
Yes, it can be embarrassing.

Now again, if the artist is honest and upfront and never tries to pretend, then who cares? If they can't draw and must use aids, and no one is assuming otherwise, then there is nothing to be ashamed of. No "secret" that is threatening to come out.

But the problem is when they do try to hide it, let people assume they can draw it all freehand, and then eventually the truth is revealed.

They cannot do live demos. If they're invited to a life drawing or live model painting group, they can't go. To do so would expose their lack of skill. Keeping that kind of secret—wouldn't it get a bit exhausting after a while?

Not really about cheating or not but my own experience with using tools like gridding vs freehand is that depending on what i'm aiming for, I can get too caught up in the lines I've already laid down and get in the way of myself if that makes any sense.

However there are times where accuracy is important to what I'm doing and I use a grid to validate my basic shapes after I've drawn them. I'm really seeing the benefit of having just few lines to dictate the placement of major shapes and staying away from having too much detail to have to obey.

I am contemplating doing a reproduction of a piece at my husbands request and I am torn about using tools to make it a precise copy vs going freehand to get more out of the exercise for myself. I worry that if I decide to use the former, I will suffer from having something that is more like a paint by numbers than a good reproduction. Most people I know won't be able to distinguish the difference but *I* will

As far as using gridding to learn I actually found it really helpful because it taught me how to proportion and fit things into the picture frame. It also showed me that given enough time and patience and thumbs and paintbrush lengths and an eraser I can somehow make an accurate drawing even though I never thought I was capable of drawing. Now when working from life I used an empty slide to frame a view and quarter it in my minds eye.
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Old 03-10-2014, 04:07 PM
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red 9
Tracing is not cheating IMO. All that does is give you an outline, you still have to know how to shape the forms, lighting, color, etc,. All tracing does is speed up the process...and that's never a negative thing.

To me, what IS cheating, mostly happens in digital art. When somebody simply lays down a photo and "paints" on top of it and then claims the image was created in a traditional process. It's so very easy to spot...yet people still do it and try to lie about their process.

I agree. I do landscapes and the sketches are never that complicated. So I trace the main elements. It really doesn't help that much, still have to make the right marks with the right paint.

I think sketching skill for still lifes and portraits is maybe a different thing.


I also must grudgingly agree with those here that say that sketching skill is important. One day I'll master it.

Last edited by john : 03-10-2014 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 03-10-2014, 05:49 PM
Thom T Thom T is offline
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Re: What is "cheating" in art?

My favorite instructor would look at imperfection and say " At least people will know it wasn't made by a machine. I ,for one, am glad that Gaugin's work wasn't perfect. Perfection can sometimes be very boring.

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