THE EVOCATIVE PAINTING
The evocative painting
Recently I viewed a very realistic painting of an expensive watch on Facebook. It was undiscernible from a photograph, so much so, that people questioned whether it was in fact a painting. Some step-by-step views showed that it was indeed hand-painted.
When people comment on this type of work it’s rarely about how this form of painting makes them feel. It's all about the wonder of the painting or sketch looking exactly like a photo. We are amazed by it, awed by the patience and skill involved it, but rarely are we moved emotionally by it.
Facebook isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I believe it is an important tool for artists. For me it’s a great way of gauging how viewers feel about paintings. The number of views and comments however don't tell whole the story, it's the nature of the comments that are more important.
Of all the positive comments one could receive about an artwork, there are basically three types.
1. Praise to the artist
2. Praise to the artwork
3. How it makes the viewer feel
The first two are great at stroking the ego and are encouraging for the artist, but I believe the third is the most fulfilling and most important.
A painting that transfers feelings from the artist's brush to the viewer is special and of course what will move one person will not necessarily move someone else. The reasons we are touched emotionally by paintings can vary too. A painting of a place may jolt our senses especially if we have a family connection with it. Paintings with mood can also evoke feelings of being there and enable the viewer to share the moment.
So, how do we paint such evocative works?
Importantly, it’s not all about getting in all the visible details down. For example, out of the many paintings you see of the Grand Canal in Venice, a few really stand out. They are notable because they are not simply a replication of this famous place, but they capture its romance. This is largely achieved by artist’s own enhancement and interpretation and this goes for any place that is painted. It is what’s left and out and what’s put in that can make all the difference. And making things a little obscure can add tremendous interest and mystery.
One of the great challenges that artists face is making mood believable, and when we manage to do this it will stand as one of our greatest achievements. It’s not done with replication but interpretation. It means imagining what a scene could be and painting it – if we can do this, we will feel the world is ours!