A reader wrote us the other day asking for help with a problem.
She was having difficulty painting from a photograph. She had the same problem if she tried to draw from a magazine. She thought it might be a perception problem. In her words, “My eyes tell me one thing, but my hands do something else…the opposite of what I see!”
She thought she had a brain problem. Instead, might her brain be trying to tell her something?
OK it’s strange
What we’re about to share may sound pretty strange, but it’s something we’ve experienced. We’ve talked with others who have experienced this too, but they are reluctant to admit it. It occurs when you “lose control” while you’re painting. You paint something and with a quizzical look ask yourself, “How did that get there?”
There are times when someone (or something) is using your body to communicate through art. We know artists are in touch with what’s known as the “collective unconscious.” That is the accumulated wisdom of tens of thousands of years of human history.
If this happens to you, consider yourself fortunate — rather than an affliction, it’s a gift. Your creativity is trying to get out, and it may be telling you that it doesn’t want to copy pictures.
Artists shouldn’t be copying photographs anyhow. Delacroix once remarked, “Of course, I use a camera, but I never copy the work of a machine.” Use photos as references – to get ideas – but avoid trying to reproduce them.
Lowell Speers once said in one of his videos, “If I wanted it (the painting) to look like a photograph, I’d get me a camera.”
There is another problem that occurs when copying from photographs. A graphic artist recommended to a friend that he should draw only from life. When drawing from life, you are viewing all three dimensions. A photograph only represents two dimensions. Drawing from a photograph trains your eye in a different way than drawing or painting from life.
Inspire not copy
Students in the great art schools, even into the late 1800’s, drew from plaster or stone busts. The student had to prove his skill with the statues. Then his teacher permitted him to draw from live models. Cameras were around, and many great artists used them (Thomas Eakins was a camera fanatic). Photos inspired their art. They did not copy photos.
We told our reader we did not think she had a brain problem. We suggested her brain might be trying to communicate with her.
Life is full of options and opportunity. Don’t restrict yourself to only one way of doing things. Attend to the beauty of the world around you.
There’s no need to copy from photos because Bill shows you how to use the techniques he teaches to create great art. Check out our courses and begin creating beautiful art.