In the last post I mentioned how photographic images have conditioned how we view paintings. The cliches of photography like the limited depth of field, the blur implying movement or the limited tonal range are now becoming part and parcel of non-photographically created images. To a person who has never seen a photograph (if such a person exists) these effects in paintings would look bizarre and inexplicable. As the technology of photography improves, these effects will be removed from standard photography and will become an option to be applied if required. It will be interesting to see if the conditioning changes accordingly.
Another technological limitation of imaging which became accepted, was the way photographs were portrayed in the printed media. Traditional offset printing plates transfer ink to a rubber belt, which is then transferred to paper. You get ink or you get no ink, depending on the image. What you don’t get are shades of ink colour. For example you get a black ink image on paper or you get no ink on paper, you don’t get grey or a diluted version of the ink. To produce shades of grey, as in a photo, the photo is ‘screened’. This is where the photo is converted into a pattern of dots, and when viewed, ‘appear’ to be shades of grey.
In a way we were conditioned to see differently here as well. The ‘pointillist’ painters and artists like Roy Lichtenstein celebrated this printed media ‘limitation’ by making ‘dots’ a feature of their work. But I think this is a different form of conditioning. Its allows us to read the language of the painting without thinking that this is how we see the real world.
And what has this got to do with oil painting? I hope it explains my personal approach to oil painting. Like the paints, mediums and brushes I use, this is how I depict my version of the world in the way I do. Its a particular approach to painting, but not the only one. I don’t ‘photographically’ blur backgrounds, use ‘motion’ blur to convey movement or limited dynamic range (silhouette) to display light. But I do use these effects in digital painting, an example here.
The abstract ‘dots’ and ‘patterns’ I use are of enormous value in my paintings. They subconsciously transform in the viewer’s mind into familiar images which can convey more than just an image. An extreme form of this is here where the entire image is a series of patterns. The oil painting above is a series of abstract patterns and lines which I hope would transform in the viewer’s eye into the world I’ve created to be explored.
Here is the video of the above mentioned painting.