Main Street, a digital dead end
Not many critics can criticize the craftsmanship of the oil on canvas painting entitled “Main Street.” I, the “creator” of the piece, had it executed with the finest traditions of photo-realism in mind and in intent. Truth to what was captured by the camera was strictly adhered to. Note the piece of litter on the left curve of the street (below corner of building in left foreground). It’s in the artist’s opinion a fine documentary of life, as it now exits, in Pahoa town on the Big Island of Hawaii.
But was the creation of a masterful depiction of this town scene the
objective for undertaking this work? Not
by a long shot. Was it to display
my talent as a painter of realism? Not
so. In fact, like the kid being
judged for worthiness to get a gift from Santa in the film, “The Polar
Express,” begs “I didn’t do it!” (bad behavior), I didn’t “paint”
the picture. But I claim
authorship. Through the stewardship
of my creative process the world is rewarded another great artwork. I don’t literally have to “do it” in my formulated
creative process to wean fine arts from the digital realm.
Here’s how I do “do” it. The
scene was captured with a digital camera as I rode in a car through town. Then I had fun “photo-manipulating” the scene until
it echoed my sentiments, felt frozen forever in time, and elicited a sense of
nostalgia for the disappearing of Small Town America (due to the changing global
economy). Taking out the specifics
of time of day, specific place, and the bright and gaudy colors of this funky
tourist street, I deemed the result successful in the creation of a generic
American scene, quickly becoming extinct in the 21st century.
Ok, so much for the romantic reason and attraction others have for this
work of art. Now how about fine art
issues, such as turning over a photograph to somebody to paint as collaborator?
For a buck?
Here’s the way I see it. I
prefer to do my own thing, adhere to the digital abstract where I’m in
complete control. No leaning on Mother Nature to provide me subject matter that
assists others to understand. Pure
integration of color, shapes, forms, space, and light, albeit of the digital
kind, not paints on a tangible surface. Like
classical music the beauty is captured in the interplay of such fundamental
compositional elements. No need for
lyrics, or here, subject matter as a guiding narrative.
Here’s the point, the true reason why this realistic painting breaks
new ground. Heaven knows so many
other works have been rendered at this level of photographic realism. So that’s not the criteria as far as I am concerned that
determines its aesthetic worth. (Nice
picture, though, quite soothing and nostalgic.) But the artistic “statement” is this - through digital
tools, such a work can be materialized effortlessly.
I click; I push and pull, collage in Photoshop, then farm out the digital
file to be rendered by a “human printer.” Without a digital “blue print” file the painting
craftsperson wouldn’t have anything to “copy.”
The skill level of my staff is so masterful that the reproduction (the
oil on canvas) is identical to the original digital image. Well, almost.
This particular piece does have another innovative perspective.
I choose to include the dashboard of the old car to defy formal standards
of portraying the classical landscape. The
viewer rides along in the automobile, eliciting both a sense of transience as
well as unimportance of the moment. This
isn’t a heroic moment like the Marines planting the flag at Iwo Jima.
Nah, just a tourist passing through town, taking a “quickie” snapshot
to record this moment of his trip. (At
that moment, little did I know it would become this famous “painting.”)
This attempt to capture an insignificant or mundane moment makes the
painting kindred to the earlier Pop Art movement.
Main Street - Pygoya, 2008
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