April 5th, 2017
The wonderful thing about "Paintography" is that any normal average photograph can be changed from average to dramatic with the techniques I have developed since 1995. As discussed in other blogs, "paintography" is the digital enhancement of a photo to increase it's impact on a viewer.
The 1940s photograph obtained from the Library of Congress of a Kansas City Southern steam engine on its everyday run from somewhere to somewhere else, stood out to me as a subject that could be enhanced. Kansas as we know is famous for tornadic weather in the spring and summer. Because of the way the atmosphere often takes most of the day to grow angry enough to spawn tornadoes we often read or view on television the storms that occur in the evening hours. This was the thinking for me when I decided to portray this 1940s scene in the evening.
However, the stormy feeling is quite intense the thing that I love to portray in so many paintings is the night or evening just as the sun has gone down or just about to disappear beyond the horizon. This time of day or night is the most incredible time of the 24 hours we tend to witness. Magical things happen as the sun goes down or right after. For instance, lightning bugs as we used to call them in southern Texas show up about this time. Many people swear that is when the fairies are most active. I have paintographs that depict both. At the edge of darkness, we experience both the rage of storms and the quietness of nocturnal life as the day fades.
Since that time of day, however, is a giant challenge for the artist to portray and get the mood just right. My favorite artist that portrays that time of day is Terry Redlin. If you are not familiar with his work, google it and you will immediately see what I mean as he is a master at portraying the evening. Even so, if you are looking for an exact copy of how the world looks at sunset or just after, you won't find it in his paintings or mine. Why, because there is either too much light still appearing in the reference (that could be real life or a photo) or too little light. Thus, the artist that chooses to portray evening scenes has to pick and choose what to emphasize and what not to emphasize. If what artists portray had to be exactly as it is in real life it would be unportrayable. An impossibility. For example, in my work often the buildings have light streaming from inside houses, buildings or whatever the main subject is. Rarely, and probably never, does light stream from interiors like that portrayed. Long after dark that light will stream from the inside to the outside. However, at that time of the night/darkness, the detail in the surrounding scenery becomes dark and difficult to have an impact.
The original photo from 1940 that accompanies this article has had the background sky erased by me and reduced to a pencil drawing. You will see that I added drama to the sky and lighting along the track at the bottom of the photo to paint in the atmosphere I was after. The battle in my mind is how to accomplish that feat. But the battle often yields drama or nostalgia or both.
The time of evening or lighting that artists portray is a combination of about 20 minutes after the sun goes down to about an hour after the sun goes down. The combination of these two times gives us a feeling of "yeah, that's how it looks." When in reality it never looks that way. On the other hand, it DOES portray the way we feel about magic evenings. We have all experienced that special time even since we were kids. And the artist's job is to portray that time. If you look through my offerings you will see how I blend those two times after sunset into a cohesive feeling of wonder and relaxation which takes us back to a time or times that were rare and had the surreal feel in the evening. It's a struggle to balance it all to get that surreal yet, real atmosphere, into a paintograph. And when I realize that a painting is done is when I feel and even silently think the words to myself "how I love the drama of the evening."
The finished piece can be viewed at this link: http://griff-griffin.pixels.com/featured/dangers-of-a-prairie-evening-j-griff-griffin.html
August 21st, 2016
If you will think about it, art which depicts the night or twilight is in the minority. I think the problem that artists face depicting the night is that color is defeated as darkness is encountered in real life. What happens is most every color begins to gray out, or become more gray. Over the years, since 1995, I have been a paintographer. One of the earliest for sure. During that time software has become better and better. No surprise there and we can assume that will continue. Since I really hate washing out brushes after ever pass on a painting I tried painting digitally to see what could be achieved.
The short story is I really liked it as it fit my mental personality type and I began to totally use a Wacom pen pad as my easel.
I began with a simple program in the 1990s called PhotoDeluxe. It was great, but limited. Then I migrated to Corel Painter 10. That was great and every now and then I use it to do some things that PhotoShop (which I now use) doesn't do as well. In all this time, though I began to rely on the software to make vivid paintings of the evening or early mornings. What PhotoShop does for my work is something that nature doesn't do. One thing I can do with a painting that may have begun as a daylight painting is to lessen the exposure in PS and sure enough just like reality the colors grayed out. After a few years the engineers at Adobe have made some remarkable software changes that actually allow one to keep the deep rich colors in my work but portray a feeling of evening into them. This is what I feel makes my digital paintings unique.
So, when you visit my website you find a preponderance of evening subjects. The reason is simple. I love the evening time and PS has made it possible to keep strong colors strong which give an unusual quality to the overall painting. I love it so much that I come back to that scheme over and over. Like the painting for this blog is a train running west towards a setting moon and passing near a depot which is not shown, light from two directions is used. The great thing is it allow us to view the train and the distant mountains and maintain a complete visibility of both in the dark. Something our eyes actually cannot do in reality. However, it does give the scene atmosphere to the viewer.
Nightfalling has a special quality winter or summer. I love it so much I hope you will also. At least you now know why and how I do what do as a digital artist.
J. Griff Griffin aka CapnGriff to fans of my other blogs
August 21st, 2016
Hi again, In a book that I published recently on Kindle Amazon, I wrote about how important atmosphere could be in a work of art. Art as I discussed before, requires that the work causes a connection between the viewer (possible art collector or buyer) in order to justify the price and the transaction. What that connection is between an individual art lover can be many things. To one collector, it could be a cute baby animal. Another, a violent storm (as retired pilot I love those). Or it could be a starry sky or beautiful sunset. You get the idea.
When that subliminal connection is achieved a possible sale for the artist is possible and for the buyer a significant reason is created for ownership, not to mention many years of happiness gazing at the artwork as one walks past. That connection can be so many things and one artist cannot fulfill the expectations of everyone that ever glances at their art. Therefore, the individual artist must concentrate on the what gives them that feeling of completion. You know, that feeling in your soul that says, wow, that song that work or art, that sculpture makes me feel so strongly about it. For me, having spent so many years looking and flying through friendly skies and those that were professionally challenging like maneuvering around tornadic storms still sticks with me. Atmosphere could mean to the viewer of art any of the items I just mentioned and more. Yet, the only one that matters is the one the artist puts in to a work. Atmosphere is not just the oxygen and nitrogen that we breathe,or the clouds on the horizon, its the palpable lump in your throat and the accentuated thump of your heart in a piece an artist has created.
The accompanying painting is a paintograph of shot taken in the 1940s and now owned by the Library of Congress. I connected with the photo right away, because I grew up less than a hundred miles from this location in western Louisiana. However, the sky in the photo was drab and washed out. Many summer days in that part of the south are just that way. Yet, I thought that a looming line of thunderstorms could play a part in what I feel is happening in the photo. Also, the birds that are flying in the air behind the country store/cafe/gas station are similar to the many that you see in that part of the world. Western Louisiana and East Texas are know for their prolific and undergrowth forest called the Big Thicket. The introduction of the thunderstorms for me was to emphasize the "heat of the day" oppressing humidity and thus, atmosphere that often goes on in that part of the globe.
The other consideration to adding the various far ground details was to take some of the focus away from the two figures sitting in front of the store and add a much more wide-ranging view of the world around them. In fact, when I see the two gentlemen there whittling, playing checkers or whatever they might be doing, it shows their focus of the large world that is moving around them. By adding the line of storms, the viewer has the choice to make up their mind that the storm will impinge on the figures current activity in the near future or is just an adornment of the way the South of the US is on any given summer day. It allows the viewer to interpret the feeling and carry the story forward as based on the viewer's own experience and not just the artist's. Thereby, an emotional connection to the piece of work might (I said might) generated and make the scene portrayed valuable to someone. Valuable is intended here as the comfort and familiarity the work embodies as opposed to the monetary value of this artist.
At this point, it may seem that I am speaking of emotion as well as the atmosphere of a piece. And, I am. However, in my humble opinion, the actual atmosphere of our planet generates daily all sorts of emotion from "ah what a beautiful day" to "holy crap, a hurricane is coming, let's get this place boarded up!" Both the previous phrases have to do with atmosphere and emotion and what I as an artist always try to portray. No artist appeals to everyone that views their work. We all know that. Each artist, however, knows there are many people that appreciate what the artist is presenting in their efforts. For me, atmosphere leads to emotion and not the other way around. So, when viewing this artist's attempts at art, look for the atmosphere and then turn inward and see if there is an emotion. If so, my attempt at art has been successful regardless of the definition of the emotion.
Till the next time, Griff
August 21st, 2016
Hello to all,
I'm not afraid of the dark in reality or as an artist. Are you?
Well, I'd like to express some things about doing paintings in a low light situation or portrayal of something less that bright daylight. Many artists strive to find a style that defines their art. In doing so, some very interesting results come about. Warhol had his repeating frames and different color in each frame. I studied with the fabulous Southwest Artist, Michael Atkinson. His art (which can be seen online at Gallerie Zuger.com) has a definite look. Once you have seen it and love it, there is no way one could mistake it for someone else.
When we get right down to it, many other artists influence us and we do our best to emulate what they do in our work. The bottom line at some point becomes we are not that other person, we cannot execute what they do, try as we may. When we finally realize that, we begin searching for that part of us that will be readily identifiable to others. A technique or quality that makes our art distinctively ours is what we endeavor to find. With enough practice we find it. And with enough compliments from others, we begin to believe in what we are doing. At that point, we rarely are as good as we need to be to set ourselves apart and make sales. However, we know that some torch has been lit and that we are on the right trail.
With me, I began to wonder about various subjects and what would make that subject have a different appeal and more drama. As I experimented, I began to find that paintings depicting low light were more dramatic and fulfilling for me. It has nothing to do with loving the dark and seemy side of life. The idea actually came to me one day as I was attempting to paint something during the "magic hour" as photographers and artists call it. And when that trial became not quite what I felt would enhance the subject I asked myself, what if what I painted was at the far end of the magic hour. Too early in the morning, or too late after sunset. What would that look like. And that trial began to take shape on many of the paintings I do.
As for sales, I realize that many people prefer sunny, happy days kinda paintings. And I do some of these. And darker (not more evil, just dark) paintings especially on line in small thumbnail size, can be too dark and not inviting to explore. That IS a problem. On the other hand, if someone is looking for an art piece to make a statement and to be different from the great number of happy days paintings, then as night encroaches or slips away, the subject takes on a special look that is different. It's not for everyone, but I love the results and the way that painting "magic hour" puts my subjects in the minority. As I explained, that can be good or bad, it depends on the viewer and how they relate to the dark. In this life, few of us have gone a life time and not had to work before dawn or after dark in our chosen fields of work. If you love your work, it might more inviting in the dark. For me as a professional airline pilot in my earlier life, the dark cockpit with dimly lit instruments was a magic place to walk in. If you're an artist, and you do something that happens after dark, it might make an interesting subject. I encourage everyone to look at extreme ends of the "magic hour" and create your own magic.
Till the next time,
November 20th, 2013
Hi, I'm Griff, and this is my first blog at Fine Art America. Briefly, these days, I dwell on 3 things artistically. They are: video, fine art and music. I have been playing professionally since I was 14 and still maintain a Pro Tools studio in my home. In fact, my art workspace, music and video workspaces are all the same. I make money on all of them. That's important.
Now, what is paintography? Paintography is actually a recent name to show up on the search engines around 2007. However, what paintography is to me, I have been doing since 1995. To me paintography is taking a photo and making that the center of interest in a piece of art. The photo is then enhanced (at least that is the intention but in the eye of the beholder) by painting around the main subject and forcing the color to the extraordinary. The accompanying art work is of a DC-9 I used to fly for Northwest Airlines. The DC-9 was extracted from a photo I took as I passed it on a taxiway as I was taxiing somewhere else. Then all the fantasy colors and ripples were added using a now little known software called Photo Deluxe. But PD was a quantum leap forward in its day, well before Corel Painter and Photoshop.
Paintography could be called digital painting and the line between the two is up to the viewer. I sometimes call my pieces digital paintings when I use some of the original background around the main subject in the work as opposed to just an extracted main subject. Then some photos are straight photo manipulations in photo shop. Generally, I don't designate which pieces are photo manipulations and which are digital paintings as various websites that allow artists to post do not have multiple choices.
At any rate, I do all three genres and they often tend to cross blurred lines as long as I get the end product I see in my mind. The thing I intend for any viewer of my art is to connect with it on a subliminal level. In other words, with my work or any artist for that matter, there should be something that infatuates you and draws one to that particular composition and execution. If it does not speak to you on an emotional level, you will grow tired of it quickly.
I studied with a famous Southwest Artist and Sculptor, Michael Atkinson. I would say that I don't get "in" to his sculptures much, but his watercolor paintings all touch me somewhere I cannot scratch. And that makes them worth having.
That said, regardless of the genre an artist works with, being a snob because it wasn't painted in oil or traditonal media will rob you of many fabulous artworks that you might hang in you private homes and offices. Some of the most incredible works these days are PhotoShop manipulations like those of Andre Oprinca. The real litmus test is not what genre the artist used, it is which pieces of work move you at an emotional level. When a collector buys a piece of an artist's soul, he has paid that artist the highest complement.
If you like what I do, please click the subscribe button to stay in the loop on what I am writing and painting,
November 20th, 2013
Hi, in the last edition I was speaking about how the art collector should concentrate on what moves one in an inspirational context. Just prior to heading here to write this I found this video which was quite amusing. It is a "battle rap" between Public TV Icon, Bob Ross, and Pablo Picasso. When you think about it, it is likely that more people have actually viewed Ross's paintings than Picasso's. And if not, certainly it could easily be stated that Ross had done more to bring budding artists in to the art world and producing their own art. I have watched hours of Bob Ross "How to" videos or public TV shows starring him. And before him, I would soak in everything that Bob Alexander did before Bob Ross.
So, what's the point? Well, it would be fruitless to try to measure who has had more impact on art appreciation. Ross or Picasso? None of us want to do the research on this, but we do understand that both have their draws to the world of art. The same kind of people do not appreciate both artists. However, budding artists are proud to show their Bob Ross style art on their own walls. Some of it being good depending on how long the artist stayed with the learning process. All that is to say, Picasso, had to begin somewhere. When supporting artists it is good to go with what you like. You'll never go wrong with that choice. Your significant other might disagree with your choice, but going with what moves you emotionally is a better choice than going with what other collectors deem popular.
Art must evoke emotion. Laughter is an emotion. For another a piece may evoke something else, but whatever rings your chimes, you should indulge that emotion. The same artwork will evoke emotion for years to come. When it doesn't, then it's time to move on to something else.
If you like what I do, please click the subscribe button to stay in the loop on what I am writing and painting,
November 20th, 2013
Here I am, in my art/recording studio, racking my brain with questions that I think the average visitor might ask. In this installment, imagine that you the visitor wonders what the attraction of "paintography" is to the artist and the collector/buyer. The answer is not simple in terms of how to put into words the emotions that some photographs immediate instill in me, the artist.
First, let's understand that I did attend an art school out of Minneapolis, Minnesota and finished all the correspondence while flying around the world as an airline pilot for Northwest Airlines. I enjoyed all the lessons and learned so much about producing art that I still use to this moment. That said, I began painting professionally using watercolors and occasionally some acrylics. What I found early on in my art side of life was that producing very accurate work was difficult and very tedious. For example, the Boeing 727 painting accompanying this article is well known by all professional pilots and some afficianados. In any manmade object there are details that people know are there. If they do not show up in a rendering, they discount the artist as not schooled in that object. That may not be the case, the artist may just be intending to portray the general shape of that object and not the details. What I found, internally, is I knew what details were supposed to be there and thus could not believe my paintings were good enough if they didn't have detail.
Whoops, no detail, no art. Hmm, but I put days and days into things and trying to get the finest line in watercolor or acrylic was more than tedious, but dang near impossible. For example, imagine trying to get the round corners on 64 windows on a jet plane perfect. It's enough to drive a perfectionist like me absolutely mad. Then, in a similar fashion, I have a painting downstairs in the basement of three wolves peering down over a waterfall at a mule deer. The original pencil rendering was accurate and I was satisfied. Then I added watercolor with the finest detail brush I could buy. And it was not accurate enough. The colors bled into one another and the result was not even close to photographic. After many of these attempts I happened on some software called Photo Deluxe. That was the turning point. It was 1995.
Not to belabor this all too long, the upshot is that with that very elemental software by today's standard, I found I could erase a photograph and keep the main subject, like a jet for example. I could paint a sky in around the plane and voila' I had something unique that had detail in the man made object and artistic, visionary flair, where detail was not needed. The 727 paintograph is one of my earliest attempts at what is now called "paintography." I think it still stands at what I attempt in each piece that I begin to accomplish. Detail from a photo, flair in the subjects that appear in nature and have no regular shape. For me, it made perfect sense to make something like no one had seen before. And that is how I became a paintographer. It might not appeal to everyone, but lots of collectors do like it. If it tickles an emotion within, the artwork you are viewing is worth buying. That means, no matter the media, no matter the subject, just the emotional connection that you receive from it.
Till next time, if you like what I do, please click the subscribe button to stay in the loop on what I am writing and painting,