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Old 01-25-2012, 04:45 PM
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virgil carter virgil carter is online now
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Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

As earlier discussions discussed, painters can paint what they see or what they feel. The concept may be to paint as accurately as possible all the way to painting non-objectively with no recognisable imagery. Whatever moves you!

Here's a painting of a couple of well-known Colonial-era mills on the Brandywine River, close to Wilmington, DE. I thought it might be interesting to look at the process I followed as one example of painting what I feel.

In the case of the subject, it's a rather common subject in our historic area and, like so many other objects from a time past, each mill tends to be rather taken for granted and overlooked. Or at least, few people spend much time thinking about one or the other mill.

My idea was to compose the two mills into a single scene and use illumination--moonlight, in this case--as a way to express some of the meaning and emotion of this place, as opposed to accurately painting what I saw. Illumination can be a powerful and emotional tool for painters, but you can judge for yourself.

First, are two of the photos used for subject matter, followed by a final thumb-nail sketch for composition and values. Last is the final painting of two that I did. As always, C&C are most welcome!

Source photos:





Final sketch:



Final painting:



"Go With the Flow", is a small painting, a quarter-sheet the long way!

Sling paint!
Virgil
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:13 PM
clayville clayville is offline
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

I like how you paint what you feel about what you see!
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:17 PM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

I have always thought, the painting should be what “I” see and feel. If I wanted to reproduce the scene exactly, I would take a photograph of it.
For me it is the feeling of the painting that is most important.

I really like the ‘final sketch’ it feels like a stormynight.
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:54 PM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

Thanks, Clay and Ron. There are so many ways to paint, and there are no rules. But I've long thought that painting the ideas, feelings and emotions that a painter has for a subject results in an evocative painting for both viewers and painter!

It was my goal, and my continuing hope, that the sketch and painting are even more memorable than the subject matter photographs. That was the goal.

Sling paint!
Virgil
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:13 PM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

Thanks Virgil

An excellent lesson in using photographs creatively. Your picture actually pulls up a lot of conflicting emotional responses for me. First is the "sunset", the going down of a way of life, the ending of something that was good and important but that is fading away, a lot of sadness. BUT then there are the warm tones, a lot of affection and warmth and love for the buildings themselves and the history they reflect. Nicely done.
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:35 PM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

Thanks, CB. Your said it better than I.

Isn't painting wonderful? One can convey what one sees. And one can convey what one feels. Everyone gets a choice. How could it get better than that?

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Virgil
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:39 PM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

Virgil, I love both your drawing AND your final painting. Great colors too! You nailed it.
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:38 AM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

Virgil,
Painting is indeed wonderful, and certainly more memorable and provocative than the source reference photos.

It looks to me that what you saw in this setting is the possibility - the possiibility of combining the disperate elements to make a more coherant compositional whole, the possibility inherant in the warm/cool contrast of the imagined night scene, and the possibility of telling a story with it that resonates.

It seems to me too that all that could be true without the viewer necessarily having access to how you feel about it... and I don't think that means that you've failed to convey those feelings to me, or that they aren't there. Though the title perhaps hints at this content and your feelings certainly inform and motivate your own actions as the painter (now that the story and method are revealed), I think the painting suceeds as an image, as a narrative, as a general mood, as intrigue that perhaps conveys a message - without access to the specifics of the emotional content for you.


Maybe it's just that 'versus' in the thread title! Can you tell that I tend to rebel against 'binary' options?
Clay
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:54 AM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

would you mind, if i politely offered some crit?

and you know that i think your paintings usually make an impact and stand out from the web page etc

but this green, virgil its nuclear- itslike a nuclear power leak has gone all over it and its buzzing and vibrating with nuclear waste

do you take this as a compliment or a fault? i dont know

i suspect youll take it as a compliment..... as you did want a reaction and response....

the question it brings to me- is what place has this color in a natural environment......
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:51 AM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

Virgil, you keep wanting some aspects of our art to be mutually exclusive when they're NOT... When I read your posts, I feel as though you are trying to "compartmentalize" concepts. It seems as though you want them to fit neatly into separate categories, keeping them distinct and organized. Of course, we know that the written word doesn't always convey our intended meaning...

It does not follow that if you paint what you see, you cannot inject your feeling into the work.

Compositionally, there ARE rules. I really wish with all my heart that you would not declare that rules are non existent or unnecessary in our paintings. They ARE important. And, they DO make a difference. Over time, artists have come to realize that certain situations work more effectively than others... and hence the list of rules began...

I don't advocate following ALL the rules (there are way too many to even fathom being able to do that)... but I do advocate and encourage artists to learn those rules, understand WHY they work, and then begin to bend or break them.

I like the panoramic format of your painting. However, I feel that the two buildings are not connected in a way that would make this a cohesive or unified composition. Your painting could be cut in half and would make two interesting paintings that could be framed as a dyptich.
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:20 AM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

I agree with Char in that as an artist we should know ALL the rules but we don't and won't always abide by them. That is what makes us unique as a person. Some of us have a hard time breaking the rules; and stay on a straight and narrow path. This is not bad but makes for a rather boring effect. I would venture to say that most of us KNOW the "rules" of painting but do not adhere to them strictly speaking.

I like to think that I always try for somewhere in between. Composition is so very important to a painting and I think that seems to be of utmost importance. One can paint what you see AND paint what you feel or you can paint either or.

I find that when I strictly paint what I see my paintings aren't very interesting; too precise for my liking. So I like somewhere in between. I like watercolor used like watercolor..washy and loose. I find myself painting both ways but I tend to like my work more when I've painted "what I feel" or a combination of both.

I wish I were as brave as you Virgil in using such bold, brilliant colors...I'm going to have to try some of those. I wish I'd have had time to participate in your thread when you posted it. Perhaps I'll venture on my own and see what I can come up with.

I do think your painting would make two nice paintings as a diptych also!
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:39 AM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

Thanks, Kate and Char, for your comments and critique. I appreciate them.

Color has such strength, and can be so expressive and personal. I often tend to paint with high intensity/saturation without thinking. It's not everyone's cup of tea, to be sure. It's not even always my cup of tea!

As for color in the natural environment, Goggle Pierre Bonnard!

Char, I really am not trying to make any aspect of painting mutually exclusive or compartmentalized! Really. Sorry if that comes across in my comments. That was not my intent.

I tried in my opening comments to specify that painters have a very wide range of options for approaching their painting, from highly realistic to non-objective!

Did I say that painting what one sees was without feeling? Did I mention rules?

My point in making this posting was simply to illustrate how one may (if one wishes) transpose subject matter from what the eye sees (the photos illustrate what the camera saw) to what the painter may think and feel about the subject matter. It's quite fine to paint what one sees. It's just not the only approach to making a painting.

That said, thanks for your comments and critique. They are very welcome and appreciated. I hope you will add more of your thoughts. Sharing ideas is how we learn!

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Virgil
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:01 AM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

Virgil, I really enjoy this bit of sparring... err... discussing...

Ok... "Did I say that painting what one sees was without feeling? Did I mention rules?"

*Nodding* yup...

Your Thread title is about painting what you see VS what you feel... hmmm... that suggests (to me, but I'm pretty literal) mutually exclusive behaviours.

And in your reply to Clay and Ron "There are so many ways to paint, and there are no rules." hmmm... no rules?

I really chuckled, planning to raz you, about your "intent" in your reply to me... Intent??? Hmmm... isn't there a thread somewhere about intent?

As far as your colour choices go... I love your paintings because of their saturated colour... It's definitely your signature style and I would recognize your paintings any day of the week...

Final thought... I admire artists who are able to merge multiple resources to create a single composition... I have never successfully been able to combine my photos or rework them into something harmonious... lighting is one of the considerations that becomes a challenge...
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:56 AM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

Hmmm, maybe I'm dense, or I didn't over think what the original post meant, but I read that completely differently than others did. I took it as: take what's there in actuality, merge or change things as/if you wish, then paint it with the mood or feeling you want to convey. Maybe I'm just a simpleton...
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:08 PM
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Re: Painting What I See vs. Painting What I Feel

"...Isn't painting wonderful? One can convey what one sees. And one can convey what one feels. Everyone gets a choice. How could it get better than that?" (There are no rules about how one must paint.)

Indeed, we must be people seperated by a common language! Perhaps we should just let our art speak? Forget exchanging ideas? Only a thought.

Sling paint!
Virgil
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Last edited by virgil carter : 01-26-2012 at 12:15 PM.
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