Technology and the Painter’s Studio
15, January 2014 § Leave a comment
by Jane Morris Pack
Technological advances have changed the world of photography in recent years and given its practitioners an incredible tool box of options. The history palette in Photoshop makes it possible to maintain a record of adjustments. Since every decision is reversible it enables the photographer to try out several versions, nuanced or radical, to enhance the photograph.
Painters haven’t been able to benefit from these advances but they can have something of the same convenience with an iPad or smartphone. Taking pictures and recording the various stages of your work make it easy to see whether the latest application of paint was an improvement or not. We can’t simply push the button to undo but at least we can wipe paint off. But perhaps of equal interest is the editing tool within the photo program. On the iPad you can choose a filter option at the bottom of the screen and turn any color painting into black and white. This tool gives you an instant readout of your tonal range; if you have neglected the mid tones, or the whites are too dim, it will tell you. It would benefit beginning painters to take a snapshot of their subject and their painting and turn both into black and white studies and compare the two. Finding the mid tones is often the most difficult task for the beginner painter. With the ability to focus on various depths it is even possible to get your iPad to take an out of focus picture and this is a great device for seeing the overall blur of color range without detail.
I am not advocating turning the human eye and mind into a camera, which seems to be the goal of many of the super realists I see today. I am more interested in the personal human vision with its quirkiness and ability to select and emphasize. Even so, the attainment of clear tones with subtlety and range is a large part of the beauty of oil painting.