- Arts and Design
A Dancer Deserves to be Painted
Ballet Photo or Ballet Painting?
Have you ever heard the comment "This painting looks just like a photograph!" I think such a remark is often intended to be a compliment to the artist. Yet as an artist myself, a remark like this would send me back to the drawing board!
The way a camera sees is vastly different from the way a human being sees.This lens explores how we see and what goes into the mix of an artist 'seeing' a subject and then painting a painting.
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There are wonderful books about ballet at the end - well worth checking out!
Thank you so much for visiting.
A Camera or a Canvas
"My Dance Teacher's Tutu" by Ann Radley
A camera is an instrument designed to create a picture of the world. And so is an artist.
With a lovely dancer before your eyes, would you choose to preserve the beauty of the moment with a photograph or a painting?
There are many differences in the way a camera sees and in the way a human being sees.
In some ways the camera is more accurate and certainly more predictable.
But first, let's compare the two.
How Does a Camera See?
Light passes through the lens or eye of the camera. (By the way, it is a camera lens I am speaking of here - not a Squidoo lens.) The size of the aperture controls the amount of light allowed in. Rays of light are bent in such a way that an image is produced on film or a microchip inside the camera. Depth of field refers to the area of a picture that will be in focus. The photographer controls the area or depth of field that will come into focus by adjusting the F Stop setting. Therefore if the camera is focused at a particular distance, whatever falls within that distance should appear clear and crisp in the photograph.
How Do Our Eyes See?
The amount of light reaching the lens in the human eye is controlled by the iris - our built-in aperture. The size of the iris opening continually changes to control the amount of light allowed in. Rays of light passing through the lens are bent so that an image is produced on the retina at the back of the eye. The image on the retina is transformed into tiny electrical signals which are routed through the optic nerve to the brain.
We See in 3 D
Because we have two eyes with about an eye's width between them, we can see depth. The view from each of our eyes is slightly different. What we see with both eyes open is a composite picture put together in our brains which gives a 3D depth to the picture we see. What you see with both eyes open has more depth than what you see with just one eye.
If you have any question or hesitation about this, please just try it out!
One major way in which our sight differs from that of a camera is that we filter out what is irrelevant. When we walk down the street our eyes take in vast amounts of visual data - much more than we are aware of. Most of this information, does not reach our awareness.
Here is a fun picture to illustrate this point. In the Nutcracker Ballet, Marie having just received her precious gift, has eyes only for her beloved Nutcracker!
As We Look - Our Eyes Dance
Our eyes are fluid instruments which are constantly moving.
The eye takes in visual data about an object of interest, not with a fixed and rigid stare, but by dancing around it, behaving almost like water. These tiny rapid movements are so automatic they are hardly noticeable. In fact to me the movement of our eyes is a continual moving dance in itself.
Why Not Just Take a Photo?
In a whirlwind of dance, a camera is just the tool to freeze the moment. It can capture detail that the eye just isn't able to keep up with. With a camera, every detail such as what you see in a mirror's reflection will be recorded with equal importance.
When we look with our eyes at a specific point, it is only the core of what we are looking at that is in focus. Surrounding objects gradually lose their clarity the further they are away from the focal point. An artist as creator, has free play as to where the center of interest is in a painting. It is my opinion that an artist can create something more in alignment with the way our eyes see than a photograph can.
The Music, the Energy, the Passion, can Radiate from a Painting
"Eye to Eye I" by Ann Radley
The sound . . . the rhythm . . . the feeling . . . the touch . . . . can all be part of an artist's very individual response to a subject.
As an artist watching a wild and wonderful dance, I hear the music and feel the rhythm in my body. And I feel the energy and passion radiating from the dancers.
Ballet Fantasy Truer Than Life?
Raven's Gift by Ann Radley
Many people would not consider commissioning a painting of a dancer, because photographs are so much more convenient. And with a photograph you are reasonably sure of what you will get.
A painting can be so much more exciting because the possibilities are endless. . . .
Sometimes a fantastical setting can best express the invisible spirit of a dance - more so than the physical stage setting in which the dance takes place.
In mythology the raven sometimes plays the role of master magician, pointing the way toward wisdom and transformation. The inky black color of the raven is associated with darkness, yet a darkness where universal secrets are stored.
In the oil painting shown here, the raven's life is nearly at an end. The raven willingly uses his last bit of strength to carry the dancer, allowing her to use him as a springboard to reach her full potential. The dancer gratefully accepts the raven's gift.
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