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When I download a drawing like my latest tree work, I get some of this, and it's a good question and one that needs to be thought through by every realist. Why not just take a photo, or why bother with all this work when it’s already documented?

That's a great question and a realist has to answer this for him or herself, If copying without change, construction and re-invention, be it form a photograph or from life, then the creative process is not addressed, in this case I agree there is a useless element about it, it becomes a fundamental exercise at best. There is nothing wrong with these exercises if it improves your knowledge and skills as a technician. But if your aim is only to draw like "a photo", I'm afraid you will never attain what "art" has to offer. Also I think too many photo-realists rely on technical eye candy alone, with no imagination, in some sense just a limited skill in observation and a stunted creative process. Working in this manner should be a foundation to build on not an end goal.

The end result is secondary to the process. My goal as a realist is to understand complexities and details; my interest is how the human eyes perceive not how a camera sees.. The hallmark of photorealism is capturing distortion and out of focus areas precisely how the camera does, I'm aware of these things and eliminate most of them. My journey begins at the first look of my model the drawing process then becomes an all-consuming study. When I complete the work, I develop an understanding of the subject that's both heightened and very personal. After spending hundreds of hours drawing the small details it gives credence to a journey taking place that cannot be achieved by any other means. I don't draw just what I see; it's a combination of facts and feelings that would not work from just a snap of a shutter. I change and alter many things from the reference photos to me they are just a blueprint an informal guide at best, I transform not just translate what I am observing. I look at small particulars of a place that cannot be seen or deciphered by "normal" cameras. I delete, enhance, elaborate, exaggerate, alter and reinvent, and I do this with putting it through my own psyche. I change what's in front of me, not for the sake of change but because it's inevitable and expected, it's filtered through 40 plus years of living. I have 100% control of every aspect of the final image can this be done with a photo and Photoshop? Perhaps, but not with my unique and very personal technical and artistic language.

In the end, some still call it photo-realism; it's something as an artist I have to accept. We tend to put things in categories, I just have to keep on this road and be true to my vision and artistic language and it's that honesty that will let me connect with some and not with others   Armin
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Hello Armin,

I'm glad to have discovered your art this morning and to read this post! I'm nearly thirty and have returned to school for a degree in natural resource management, due to my love of nature. My classes last year inspired me to begin drawing again, and I've found that simply working from photographs of subjects that I admire makes me feel most at ease, and creating my own impression of what these images have to tell me about the world is fulfilling.

Stumbling upon your masterful "tree drawing II" I felt that what you have already accomplished is what I can only hope to achieve in the future. My own humble work by way of comparison would be a small sketch I did of a photo I took out on a trail in Yosemite National Park, which was a very confused scene full of rocks, trees branching in every which way, and autumn leaves scattered about the place. When I finished the drawing, which was to date the most time-consuming I've done (only a few hours) I wondered "why am I doing this?"

To me it doesn't seem like there has to be a justified answer to that question beyond the fact that I learned so much in the doing. I learned to appreciate where leaves collect along paths, and where moss grows on the face of rocks, and how shadows lay along uneven terrain. In the same way, when I draw a bird, I learn about the texture and layering of its feathers, the proportions of its head, body, and wings, and so much about what life really is... While I can appreciate such things from viewing a photo, I can never remember like I do after actually having taken the time to draw the thing. It is like the difference between studying a subject from books rather than newspaper clippings - so much more involved and educating. It really is a wonderful experience.

Thank you so much for the inspiration! I am in awe, and appreciate the time you take to share your experiences as an artist. Cheers!

Brody-Mors Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Beautifully said, Armin
Cissell Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2016  Professional General Artist
I have found that a good drawing, painting, or sculpture has a "life," a depth, and a presence in a room that a photograph does not.  Often I feel that I can look "into" the scene of a painting or drawing (even one with less detail) whereas a photo, even a great one, remains to me a printed surface... and seems to have a less intimate relationship with the viewer.  With a painting or drawing I can fell like I'm "there", a participant in the event somehow, but with a photograph I feel like I'm removed from the scene, or that its something that is removed from me in time.  Even though, optically, I would think a photo should be more convincing.  This isn't true 100% of the time, but sometimes a hand-made image simply has a life to it that photographs do not.  I don't always know how to explain how or why this occurs, but I know its a phenomenon that's very real to me.
janellemckain Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you for this superb explanation...much appreciated.
MJWilliam Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist
A photo is one click. A drawing is so much more. I don't strive for realism myself but I can appreciate it for what it is.
KristofDeSaeger Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2016
Amen to that.  I agree to what you are saying.  If I look at my drawing collection, I can easily say which ones are drawings that I created for excersise, and at most for getting my drawing skills at a higher level.  I also have some drawings that are so much more.  Sadly these are also the drawings that somethimes are not that popular, in my case.... :-)
Alaneye Featured By Owner Edited Aug 14, 2016
It's my belief that anyone who asked you that question is (knowingly or unknowingly) insulting your extraordinary skill. Your drawings are obviously so much more than a photograph. Take, for example, your eye drawings: When I look at them my own eye is filled with every detail, details that I'm sure are not apparent in the original photo. It's like watching a super slow motion shot of an egg falling and breaking. At normal speed it falls and splats. In slow motion you can see every detail, the fall, the initial impact, the shell beginning to shatter, tiny fragments spinning into the air, the eggshell crumpling, the white and yoke exploding in stunning shapes that you couldn't see at normal speed. That's what it feels like to look at one of your drawings. Like a slow-motion image, where every detail has been slowed down, brought to the front and enhanced. They are an incredible, immersive experience.

How long will it be before ignorant people are saying, why did you bother sculpting that piece when you could have just scanned it and printed it out?
SchechterArts Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2016   General Artist
A fine reply. Too bad not everyone who says "Why not just take a picture" will understand it.
T-Bag-Productions Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2016
Well said.  
LisaKellerer Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You are so right!
Safu-ra Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2016
To me, your art is extraordinary... There hasn't been a single post from you where I find myself not amazed with the things you do on canvas/ paper. Your artistic language is very well received, understood and appreciated and admired. When I look at your artwork, I always think, "Oh my God....this man doesn't need a camera - all he needs is paper, pencil and pen". 
Sincerely, a huge fan of yours.
IamDogged Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist
*stands and applauds loudly* Damn well said! You've managed to express what I try to explain a million times! Bravo my friend!
Ragnar949 Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2016  Professional General Artist
Nod   I would agree.  I heard it also from some art students and profs (not my drawing teachers) thirty years ago.

I have no use for "categories," never have.
Uranium-Sea Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2016
The discussion over photorealism vs "real art" seems presently ubiquitous. Why did you decide to join in? Were you faced with explicit criticism in that direction? Especially academics seem increasingly dismissive towards photorealistic drawing.
While I am on a far lower skill level than you (and other realists by extension) I still see where they are coming from. I found a lot of realists do not really care about the creative process per se, but chose to turn their work into a "craft" rather than "art". Which is, in my opinion, a waste of effort and skill.

In that vein I applaud your reasoning and marvel at the way you view your own work, but, as you said, not everybody will be able to appreciate it as much, be it because of superficially consuming artists' work or simply some sort of general numbness and apathy.
I for one hope you maintain your conviction and dedication. Looking forward to seeing your future work (I sadly only recently stumbled upon your portfolio here).

Kudos :thumbsup:
arminmersmann Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist
thank you!

 Academia is stuck it the grad school mind set, they rarely are confronted with the real art world.  The have the luxury of pissing in a jar or gluing pubic hair on to a sick in the name of art.  They do not have to enter or do shows, approach a galleries or sell work. Yes I’m painting this with a wide brush for I know some who are amazing thinkers and doers, but most are conceptualist, not “wrong” but artistic Peter Pans  IMHO

SchechterArts Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2016   General Artist
I couldn't agree more. As I earned a B.A. in Conceptual Arts some years ago, I can attest that Armin's summary of the "academic" art world, while broad-brush (no pun intended), is accurate overall. If I had to do it over again, I'd have majored in something better. I haven't been into conceptual art for a while now but every so often I get dispatches & apparently, nothing's changed for the better. Such characters don't worry about selling their work or putting it in the kind of gallery Armin deals with. No, what they do is write grant proposals, indulge in postmodernist/post-structuralist thought (academic horse puckey of the first order!), & engage in bizarre behavior in public & call it "performance art" or "happenings". If you've ever heard of, say, Chris Burden or Joseph Beuys then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
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