Janet Kruskamp's Paintings - Painting from Your Own Photos... Another View, an article by Janet Kruskamp - Visit JanetKruskamp.com for  original paintings, by the artist.

Painting From Your Own Photos... Another View
originally published in Northlight Magazine, Feb 1979
by Janet Kruskamp
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It is interesting to note that when an artist employs an opaque projector or other similar means to transfer an image to the painting surface, it is usually quite evident in the finished painting. Occasionally, an artist will have on display, side by side, work that is done both with and without the aid of a projector; the contrast is dramatic! The image that has been projected is mechanical while the painting that was drawn free hand by the artist has its own inherent personality.

I feel that photographs should be used as an inspirational guide, not a stencil. Many "realist artists" for the sake of saving time and (let's be honest) sometimes a lack of drawing ability, use one of several projection methods; either a slide projected on the painting surface, or an opaque or overhead projector. These devices allow the artist to trace the projected image directly onto the painting surface - sometimes saving hours of drawing time, and enabling them to proceed quickly into the painting stage.

Unfortunately, this technique can sometimes have a very restrictive effect on the artist's creativity and individual style, forcing him to follow the original photo and, in effect, do nothing more than reproduce that photo! I feel we should leave this technique to the commercial artist, where such practices are valid and useful tools.

I say this, not for ethical reasons, but for aesthetic reasons! In the case of the Fine Artist, my feeling is that when photography is used in this manner, the work tends to look harsh and mechanical. The drawing and subsequent painting tends to lack the personal effect and individual style that each artist possesses? The artist's own "signature" as it were. The resulting work is simply the unfeeling, uninspired tracing of a photograph without the human input of the artist. meant to be judgmental. My concerns, as stated before, are purely aesthetic!

Also, there is the rare artist that can overcome the mechanical look using this technique. The first artist of this century that comes to my mind is one of my childhood idols, Norman Rockwell!

The compositions of his paintings were carefully staged and photographed and later transferred via an overhead projector to a canvas. But, yet, this incredible man, who always insisted he was "only an illustrator", had the unique ability to impart that human, living, breathing quality to everything he painted. A rare artist, indeed!

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