December 06, 2009

The Power of Artistic License

One of the things I have a little trouble with, from time to time, is giving myself the permission to use my artistic license. I know that most artists, even when their subject is a real place or object, adapt it to their own vision in order to improve the composition. They leave out certain aspects of a landscape, like telegraph poles or road signs for example, to make their final image more balanced, more harmonious, etc. Once again though, it comes down to the difference between knowing something and really knowing it.

So even though I know other artists take appropriate liberties with their subject matter, I still feel compelled, whenever my work is based on a real-life image, to try represent that image as completely as possible. And, when I do eliminate some random piece of the original reference, I feel almost like I'm cheating. I've gotta get over that and, print by print, I'm working on it.

Take this Hummingbird Vine print for example. In my original photo, the maroon gutter that runs underneath the vine showed up among the leaves:

The whole time I was planning out this print I also planned to include that bit of gutter in my version. It was that little bit of maroon that I was going to add today. Here's the actual area in my print:

And here it is with the maroon ink added in (I kept some maroon ink from last week just so I could save myself some mixing time today):

You can probably see where this is going. Even though the maroon was meant to tie into the window trim, and is the same colour and all that, when added to the print, it just looked misplaced. It's not detailed enough, it doesn't look like a gutter, so it just didn't seem to make any sense, stuck as it was among the foliage. I didn't like it.

So, artistic license in hand, I went back to mixing colours. I figured that a green, even if it turns out slightly different than the other greens already in the print, will still make more sense than the maroon. It may not be accurate to the original image, but leaving out the maroon will make for greater harmony overall. Amazingly, as if it were meant to be that way, the green I mixed up matches the mid-tone green I already have in the print.

I burnished by hand today, no sense in hauling the press to the kitchen for such a small area, and it's a good thing it was my last colour. The MDF block had become warped to the point where I had to struggle to get my registration right. Here's the final print; not too different from last week's image really.

I loved doing this print, even though I had issues with the MDF. But I'm glad to be done for now, I really need to get my Christmas cards finished off.

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