Hello Everyone! I've been thinking about sharing my artistic process via my blog for a long while now. I've now decided to focus on a particular technique, one that merges the two forms of visual art that I'm obsessed with; painting + photography.
This technique is known as "Photorealism" -- a very realistic style of either painting or drawing in which the piece is based entirely on a photograph. In some cases, the use of multiple photographs are used as a basis for the piece. Though it's by no means a new concept in the art sphere, it's grown in popularity over the years and has recently re-emerged in the art world.
Photorealism began in the us in the 1970's
The photorealism movement began in response to abstract art movement of the 60's & 70's. It came about as a way to reappropriate photography. Some say there's a distinct difference between Photorealism and Hyperrealism, in which the photorealist artist, replicates a photograph in its exact likeness, whereas the hyperrealist artist focuses on adding emotion, narration and specific intention into their work. Personally, I think ANY artist invokes some level of emotion and specific intention into their work, at least I would hope so.
The photorealism process is CRAZY tedious. It requires an extreme amount of attention to detail, I mean extreme attention to detail, like the way light dances on certain objects or skin or the way it reflects on water, along with the various types of shadows that are produced at different times of the day, month and year.
This works in my favor, as I'm a very detailed person by nature. Meaning -- when I see something I find captivating, rarely do I focus on the overall aesthetic. There's always a component, a fragment that I hone in on, and another..... and another. Photorealism combines the two forms visual art in which I'm passionate about; photography & painting. It allows for me to create and "transmit" the emotions, sensations and vibrations of the moment in time in which I captured the photograph onto the canvas.
Below, is my most recent piece, "El Museo de San Juan". My render of the Museum of San Juan, in Puerto Rico. Despite being small in size (10" x 10") throughout the process I realized there are 3 key attributes that are required in a person in order to see a photorealistic painting through to completion....
It sounds simple enough. The process of painting, drawing, sketching, etc., isn't exactly the type of task an impatient person undertakes. Photorealistic paintings however, require a severe layer of patience and nurture than say that of abstract or minimalist paintings.
As you can see from the photo to the left, my process begins with a simple set-up of transparent paper taped to a canvas that's the same size as the canvas I plan on using for my painting.
At this point, I'm using my photograph (not seen in this pic) as a reference to carve out an accurate replica of the Museo de San Juan. Most importantly, I'm carving out shadows, changes in light casts and miniscule details including the bricks, peeling paint on the building and like that of the lamp fixture.
Once I lock in these key elements using a graphite pencil, I then flip the paper over, press and "smudge" my sketch onto the canvas.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL.
Staring at a photograph for hours, days and weeks on end requires an extreme amount of patience. But to replicate its light, shadows, darkness and texture is where the attention to detail comes into play. This is key. It's also something I continue to learn about myself through the art process; that is, just how much I notice details, but also find pleasure and contentment in this examination.
At this point in the process, my focus is now on only two things; building color depth and locking in shadows. Since I'm using acrylic paint, the key is to thin the paint out, to the point of translucency. This can be done using water or a medium of some sort. In this case, I used water to get the paint to the thinnest consistency possible. This method is known as "glazing" and allows for a deeper level of color depth.
Glazing allows for light to shine through the canvas, giving the painting a larger depth of color as opposed to applying a thick layer or two of paint, which would give the painting a very "flat" look, the very opposite of what a camera captures in a photographic scene.
The amount of concentration that I seem to find from somewhere deep inside while painting is absolutely "Source energy", the only way I can describe it is that of being in a state of "detached awareness" -- meaning, I find myself detached from anything outside of that moment. It's awareness. Meditative -- a content solitude. This is exactly why I can't participate in trends like that of live painting, my process is just different and I enjoy it that way.
Moving on, I've now locked in approximately 15 layers of paint. There's much more detail to add (I wasn't anywhere near complete at this point) but, the key elements are locked in; shadows, light casts and contrasts are all in their true likeness. The final piece and reference photograph are below.
The process of inspiration is such an interesting one. The emotions that are kicked up in us when we're inspired is a very necessary component of creative expression. My goal as an artist is not to simply create an exact replica of a photograph. It's to share how a particular moment in time inspired me or elevated me in some way, I believe when this happens is when art truly becomes meaningful. Now tell me, what inspires you? Share your thoughts & any feedback by commenting or send me a note.