Should an artist paint from a photograph?

Okay, I have to admit, I am still under the weather with this flu thing, so when I was doing some crusing through some blogs, I came across this question; Should an artist paint from a photograph? Duh?? I guess so if you are such a crappy photographer and you can’t get it right the first time.

Then it got better, as one artist claimed that since a photograph is “dead”, he created life by now painting the image. Don’t look now but I think someone has a tiny messiah complex. I needed this to help lighten me up today.

Artist draw inspiration from many souces; dreams, experiences, songs, poetry to name a few. So I guess a fair question is, did they make the photograph from which they are painting or did they find a photograph of something that they want to paint? For fifteen years of painting, even with over ten years of prior photography, I painted what I saw, my memory or experienced, I did not paint from photographs. But that was me.

There are some painting mediums, such as oil which can be incrediable slow to work with. Especially for larger complex works. So a reference image to help with your recall may not be so bad. But to photograph of an image is a first order of observation of that image, while making an artwork from the image in the photograph is a second order of observation. To start with a second order observation, you do not experience all of the environmental conditions of the thing itself; temperature, humidity, smells or textures as examples.

But that a photograph is a dead object and a painting is alive? Oh my oh my.

Best regards, Doug


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