Dear Cleo 18 06 12

Dearest Cleo

I trust you are well and have enjoyed your half term holiday. After many long weeks I have emerged from the Monastery having completed my appocolyptian task. I will write more tomorrow about that, in the meantime the Unseen University have asked me to consider how working from life differs from working from a photograph in terms of the way we experience the time spent. It is a difficult aspect to consider without considering working from photographs as a whole, so I will consider this, and hopefully my conclusion will bring out the aspect of time spent.

Working from life involves intense slow looking at the model and the model is three dimensional which gives practice in working between the three dimensions of the model and the two dimensions of the picture plane. Following much practice and study, this later enables the artist to create fully realistic two dimensional images of things that he imagines because he fully understands the use of space in its truest sense. From my studies in life class, I am beginning to get fairly realistic human forms with a sense of space around them without the use of a model or photographs. Part of the essence of being an artist is the ability to emphasise parts of the image that attract the eye more as Auerbach does in his paintings of the building site in the Earls Court Road, a photograph gives equal edges, prominence and weighting to everything within it.

One of the things that gives a true sense of three dimensionality is tone which is extremely hard to judge when working from photographs, either coloured or black and white, as photographs tend to average out tonal differences and give very dark darks in the shadows or the use of flash on the camera bleaches out the tones.

Working from photographs is using an image where the actual looking is a fraction of a second, while I appreciate that a professional photo shoot can take many hours or days to set up and therefore can appreciate why they look so much better than your average photograph, the act of looking is still a fraction of a second. Transferring an image from two dimensions to two dimensions collapses any aerial perspective, you can check this by taking a photograph on your mobile phone and comparing it to what you are looking at.

Artists known to have used Photographs include almost every artist who has been alive since the invention of photography, artistically it is probably best used as a reference by artists such as Degas and VanGogh who were able to draw from memory and use photographs to judge pose or movement.

I have been toying with the idea of buying a camera lucida, after all they are only $130 each. This is not a photograph in the strictest sense of the word and after all Caravaggio and Vermeer cannot really be classed as bad artists it is however reputed to speed up the drawing process.

Speed is not the object of art just, like football is not about money. Art is about slow looking and consideration and deep thought to produce something that can be appreciated over time by an audience that were not yet born at the moment of creation. You cannot do this with a flash in the pan or the camera unless you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right millisecond and a true photographic wizard.

I hope you are settling back down at school after the half term and congratulations on getting 100% in maths, sometimes I wish art was like maths and there was a right answer.

My love as always

Mickos xx