Friday, December 9, 2011

Birds In Detail

Quite some time ago, over a year ago as a matter of fact, I stopped reading one of my favorite bloggers. She had been writing about the grandfather of natural history artists, John James Audubon. She'd had an opportunity to view some of his original watercolors up close and the posts were fascinating to say the least.

Then one day she started talking about style and technique. Audubon worked primarily in watercolor, and while his paintings were very realistic and finely detailed he did not attempt to paint every detail on every feather. This blogger and fellow artist then compared Audubon's work to that of another artist whose name I do not now recall who worked in acrylics. She posted an image of this other fellow's work, which I thought rather well done, and went on to publically dis him. His bird was also very realistic but apparently contained too high a level of detail for this blogger. Her comment was that if this bird showed up in her yard she would put it into rehab. She felt that there was too much detail, detail that couldn't be seen and therefore shouldn't be painted.

I was profoundly disappointed in this woman and not because my own work is highly detailed. I was appalled that she would take such a cheap shot at another artist and publically shame him and his work. Art is highly subjective and what one person hates another may love. Just because detail work is not what you enjoy or what you're good at doesn't mean that it's wrong--I simply don't believe there is a wrong and right way to make one's art. (Probably one of the reasons I never went to art school.  I wasn't interested in having someone tell me I was doing it wrong.)

Perhaps she was trying to make herself feel better about her own style of work--we often make fun of others in order to make ourselves feel superior. But whatever the case I was no longer interested in following this blogger.

I write about this now because after I got my good lens fixed I sat down behind our sliding glass doors to take pictures of the birds on the balcony. Looking over the images later I was amazed, as I have been before, at how sharp the pictures are and how much detail can be seen. At a distance birds look sleek and smooth. But up close, especially on a windy day or when they're singing, they are rumpled and fluffed, and every feather really can be seen.


So I say now to the blogger who thinks detailed art is a bad thing, or that such fine detail can't be seen, I say, perhaps you need a better camera.


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