If you’re going to cheat, then be sure to do it well. In fact, do it so well that it becomes an art form in itself.
If you contrive and manipulate to create an artistic representation of the world around you that gives you and others pleasure, such as through the medium of photography for example, or indeed through more classical mediums of paint on canvas, does that not qualify as art? Is it cheating if your methods of achieving your representative artistic masterwork don’t follow conventional, tried and tested, classical, and dare I say it ‘traditional’ processes?
I think not. In fact, I believe that creativity should know no bounds. However, creativity is only as elastic as one’s ability to conceive of the possibilities of its expression.
Have I been cheating then, in turning my hard earned photographs into digital oil paintings with the help of a rather ingenious app. that allows for a broad range of personal interpretation and style?
Perhaps the question should be: could you have created the same image?
The above image began life as my second visit to Venice, Italy, back in 2013 when I was fully in throes of early love and rapture with the most beautiful of ancient european cities. I stood on the small but robust bridge of Rio Terra Catecumeni, by the imposing white marble covered structure of the church of the Santa Maria della Salute. It had just turned 5:57pm and the deafening clang of the huge bells of the Salute began peeling across the city, as they had for over three long centuries, only gaining three minutes on the rest of the city’s bells which joined in the choral din at staggered intervals over the course of the following fifteen minutes. This was a daily affair, and I’d come especially to experience it up close and personal.
The bells of the Salute seemed to be in competition with the rest of the 109 bell towers in the city of Venice, ringing out with a fervour of a petulant child, clearly unmatched by the others. In the midst of such a cacophony, interspersed with the sounds of the water buses chugging up and down the length of the Grand Canal that I stood facing, I found myself laughing hysterically at both the comedy and the sheer enchantment of the scene before me, that required the fullest sensory participation possible. With every clang reverberating through my body, making me flinch and giggle even more.
The evening light was warm and inviting, making the usual dulled colours of the canal burst and come alive. Sunset in Venice is quite something else.
Traffic on the canal and on the ground was busy with tourists all enjoying the pleasures of Venice in their own way, and adding to the ambience that I hoped to capture with my little point and shoot camera that was my trusty travel companion at the time. The briny air was warm and was laced with cigarette smoke and chatter, as people passed by behind me on the bridge. I lined up my shot and waited for the right moment as if I were waiting for all the actors on the stage before me to take their positions before I pressed the camera’s shutter button. A scene existing for the briefest of moments, just long enough for me to capture its magic on my digital device, and for me to look back on and enjoy through the wonders of modern technology for years to come.
Photographs are always a work in progress to my mind. The technology of my camera at the time was of a much lesser quality than the kind of equipment I sport these days when out on a shoot. The digital rendering of the original photograph that I took that day wasn’t great, however, with the kind of digital editing tools that exist now, much can be achieved in realising my original artistic vision.
Now, I’ve been a classical, conventional artist for as long as I can remember and my desire to paint Venice has existed almost as long. Imagine then my absolute delight when I recently discovered a clever little editing tool that would allow me to do just that, but without the canvases and the tubes of paint, or the many hours spent waiting for paint layers to dry, or indeed the smell of turpentine and linseed oil infusing the whole of the apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I love to paint in the conventional way, but it is a very involved process, as producing anything via analogue methods often is. This tool however, has allowed me a certain degree of artistic freedom that I perhaps wouldn’t have explored through more traditional means. Instead I spend my hours getting the colour palette and feel of the composition just right, so that it conveys exactly the right mood and tonality. I then focus on the details as a painter would, bringing out just enough to draw the eye to particular areas of the composition, so that they might tell a little story as your eyes trace over them, and bring some of the magic I see in my mind’s eye to life. You see, every piece is a work of art, and a work of love for me. And like every artist that ever was, having others enjoy my work is part of the enchantment.
Have I cheated, or have I simply created something new?
In being innovative and breaking the existing moulds, are we spoiling things or are we in fact creating opportunities to view our lives in a new way?
Here are some more digital oil paintings of Venice that I’ve been working on lately. I hope you enjoy!