Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Painters Perspective

Painters have always fascinated me.  As a photographer, I capture something that already exists.  I may arrange things or pose people, select my perspective and framing, make artistic decisions through lens selection and camera settings, and alter images in postproduction; but I always wind up working with existing images.

Painters begin with a clean sheet.  They create something from nothing.  How does that change the way they see the world?  How would my photography change if I were also a painter?   Well, I'm not, and I really don't intend to become one.  But I did decide to take an intensive four-day beginners watercolor workshop from a master painter named Fred Graff, and it was an eye-opening experience. 

Fred is amazing!  The way he sees things, the way he interprets them, his painting style, and his workshops are all indescribable.  They must be experienced, not to be understood, but to be appreciated.

What did I learn?  That painters tend to look for shapes rather than things.  I got a painter's view of color theory, design and composition, spatial relationships, focal point, planes, contours, light sources, implied lines, proportions, perspective, values, and vignettes.  I struggled with painting techniques such as wet into wet, wet into dry, dry into dry, underglazing, overglazing, color mixing (paint and light work differently), lost and found edges, and negative painting (basically, you paint over everything that is not your subject).  Sound confusing?  Try doing it!

The workshop was great fun and I met some really nice people, but will it change my photography?  Absolutely!  I just don't yet know how.  But over time, as I ponder and assimilate the experience, there is no question that the way I view and photograph the world will be altered, perhaps profoundly, by what happened to me over these four days.

I close this post by sharing more samples of what I did and by thanking Fred Graff for warmly welcoming a non-painting photographer who had the audacity to enroll in one of his watercolor workshops. 


You can see examples of Fred's work at this link:

My photography is available at:

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